Israeli fighter beats vicious Jew-hating opponent who threatened to ‘burn him like Hitler’

While receiving Jew-hating messages, “I chose not to react, preferring to respond in the ring,” Israel”s Rafael Aronov said.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An Israeli mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter won the World Combat Championship in his class earlier this month after his opponent had taunted him with Holocaust terminology, making for an especially sweet victory, Ynet’s local Beersheba and the Negev edition reported.

Rafael Aronov was set to face off against Kazakhstan’s Ilyas Sadykov in the welterweight division on March 9. Roughly two weeks before the competition, Sadykov started sending his Israeli opponent – who happens to be a Beersheba policeman in an elite unit – viciously antisemitic messages.

“While preparing for the fight,” Aronov told the outlet, “I started getting messages on Instagram from my opponent, saying things like, ‘Do you like german [sic] music?’ and ‘I will burn you like this guy,’ along with a picture of Hitler. I chose not to react, preferring to respond to [him] in the ring.”

When they were weighing in, Aronov said, “we stood face to face. There was a lot of tension in the air. There was a feeling of ‘bad blood’ between us. The fight began badly for me, I was hit hard and fell to the floor. I recovered fast and managed to bring down my opponent and beat him in a knockout.”

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When asked how he felt about his victory, the 28-year-old answered, “I had a crazy sense of satisfaction. I come from a family of Holocaust survivors. I took the antisemitic statements personally, so I had a double victory – a personal one and a victory over antisemitism.”

It was also Aronov’s first championship belt.

In a separate interview on Channel 14, Aronov said that while “trash talk” was common before fights, Sadykov had “crossed the line” by saying that he’d kill him like Hitler had killed the Jews.

“There are lines that you do not cross, and there are things about which there is no forgiveness,” he said.

After the bout, the two shook hands. Although Aronov won by knockout, Sadykov complained on Instagram afterwards about the “fake” judges and demanded a rematch in his own country, The Jewish Chronicle reported.

The World Combat Games is an Olympics-recognized, international multi-sport event featuring combat sports and martial arts, ranging from karate, bare-knuckle boxing and wrestling to kickboxing and taekwondo.

In the March event, the first of its kind in Israel, local fighters were matched against opponents from around the world in several combat categories, with thousands in attendance at Tel Aviv’s Menorah Mivtachim Arena.