This was a fun week for me at the Forward. In addition to reviewing Gary Shteyngart’s latest, I also spent some time recently with Dmitriy Salita, the Russian-Jewish boxer. Salita has been a professional fighter in the light-welterweight division for almost ten years now. He’s a fascinating character — both devoutly religious and intensely focused on one day soon becoming a world champion. He’s also a good, decent person, and it was interesting to trail him as much as I did these past weeks. He’s at a turning point, having suffered his first defeat last December, and a pretty humiliating one at that. An excellent documentary was done about Dmitriy a few years ago, “Orthodox Stance,” covering the triumphant beginning of his professional career.
You can read my piece here. It’s accompanied by a great photo essay by Claudio Papapietro, who also took the picture above.
This is my lead:
When he speaks about the future of his boxing career, Dmitriy Salita gets a look of pure intensity in his otherwise mournful brown eyes. All the greatest boxers have this stare, a perfect distillation of concentration and discipline and total faith in the strength of their own arms. But in Salita, it is also the look of a man convincing himself that there is a future for him in the sport. Seven months have passed since his humiliating loss in England to Amir Khan — the first defeat of his professional career — when he was knocked down three times in the first 76 seconds of the match. He has not faced another opponent in the ring since.