By Lee Chottiner
In a stark reminder that the coronavirus pandemic is still taking its toll, the March 6 super welterweight title fight in Louisville between Rabbi Yuri Foreman and Jimmy Williams was postponed when Foreman rapid-tested positive for COVID.
The 40-year-old boxer, who fights under the Israeli flag, and his wife and manager, Shoshana, who later tested positive herself, have returned to their Brooklyn home, where they are quarantining.
Rapid tests, also known as point-of-care tests, don’t require a lab and can be performed anywhere.
“We postponed the fight,” Shoshana said. “We don’t know where and when it will be yet. We will recover and rebuild before we move forward, baruch hashem.”
A former world super welterweight champion who lost his title in 2010, Foreman is attempting a comeback.
According to Shoshana, Foreman did a rapid test prior to the scheduled fight, which was positive. Shoshana’s was negative, but both are exhibiting symptoms.
“Some people’s DNA is resistant to the rapid test and it looks like mine is,” Shoshana said.
(Both, however, later took PCR tests, which are typically analyzed in a lab. They were positive.)
The couple doesn’t know how or where they contracted the disease.
“Yuri was fasting and dehydrated on the plane, which was a packed flight with zero social distancing,” Shoshana said. “It usually takes two to 14 days to develop symptoms. Yuri’s immune system was compromised, having cut water and calorie intake the day of the flight through the following afternoon. My symptoms lagged two days behind Yuri, which is strange because we are obviously together every day.”
A native of Belarus, in the former Soviet Union, where he began boxing to ward off bullies, Foreman immigrated to Israel with his family and trained in an Arab gym.
Years later, when he moved to New York to train for a possible title fight, he became interested in religion, studied for the rabbinateand was ordained in 2014.
He won the World Boxing Association super welterweight title on Nov. 14, 2009, defeating Daniel Santos in a unanimous 12-round decision in Las Vegas.
According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Foreman was the first Orthodox Jew to hold a world title in boxing since Barney Ross in 1935, but neither Foreman nor Shoshana could confirm that.
Months after winning the title, Foreman lost it to Miguel Cotto in a June 5, 2010, fight at Yankee Stadium, when he slipped and tore his ACL. He has fought only a handful of times since.
The Louisville fight, sanctioned by the American Boxing Federation, was for an open national super welterweight title, not a world title.
Shoshana said her husband remains committed to his comeback.
“We will recover and when we get a clean bill of health from a doctor, Yuri will hit the gym and prepare to face Jimmy again.”