Interview: Boxing Champ Turned Boxing Promoter – Dmitriy Salita

Jews have been fighting for a long time. Historically, Jews have played a major role in the sport of boxing. And a few years ago, a handful busted onto the scene including Dmitriy Salita. Salita, not officially retired from the ring, is now trying his hand (and glove) on the other side of the sport.

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1) When did you begin boxing?
I started boxing in 1995 at Starret City Boxing Club located in Brooklyn at the age of 13.  It was a hot bed for boxing with many of the best boxers in the country and the world training there. 

2) What was your favorite/best fight and why?

I have several memorable fights.  The first one was at the age of 13.  After training for about 6 months I entered into my first boxing tournament which the State Silver Gloves taking place in Rochester, NY.  My weight class was 95lbs.   I remember the difficulty of loosing three lbs for the weigh in. My first experience of making weight which at times can be harder then the actual fight!   After the weigh in came the fight scheduled later on the same day.  I remember it like yesterday bout number 29 on a show that had over 40 matches with kids from all over the state.  I was very, very nervous because I was fighting someone much more accomplished and experienced then me.  My first fight my opponent had over 30 fights.  As the fight started I saw in the first minute of the first round that my training and skills were better then that of my experienced foe.  I stated to gain confidence and gain control of the match.

I won a unanimous decision and the following day won another fight in the finals becoming State Silver Gloves Champion at 95lbs age group 13/14 years old.  I was the happiest kid in the world!

3) Why did you decide to retire?

I never officially retired.  Life is a journey at times unpredictable.  I had to financially support my family as the fights were not bringing me the funds that I needed to survive.  Through my connections and relationships I started looking for work but couldn’t really land a job. I found out personally the challenges athletes face when they have to change gears in life and kind of start over.   That was an extremely difficult process for me!  I initially started to do some training, personal , classes and what I can to make ends meet.  I remember how frustrated I would get when clients would not show up to there 7am appointments. 

I always had dreams and aspirations of being in the promotional business of boxing.
After my last fight I took the leap of faith and took small steps that I could to make that goal a reality.  I first started to promote amateur boxing shows.  And with blessings, challenges,  sacrifice and hard work it started to become a business.

4) You have transitioned into promoting. How did that come about and what are your goals? 

I initially started promoting to progress my own career.  After my fight with Amir Khan I promoted 3 of my own fights.

As I was working on shows I immediately noticed that there were a lot of very talented fighters not signed to promoters.  One of the first fighters I signed was Jarrell Miller he is now one of the best heavyweights in the world.  As a fighter I was fortunate enough to be signed to some of the best promoters in the world and was exposed to the business on the highest level.  I watched, learned and put some of my own flavor to make my company unique and special for fighters we represent and most importantly the boxing fans.

5) How does your Judaism mesh with fighting? Are they ever in conflict?
It doesn’t matter what job you are in Judaism and its philosophy is there to improve you make you more focused , work harder and give you the tools to deal with success, challenges and most importantly realize that we answer to a higher power.

6) What was your Jewish life like growing up and what is it like today?

I was born in Odessa, Ukraine ( Soviet Union when I left).  My family immigrated to Brooklyn, NY in 1991 when I was 9 years old.  In Brooklyn was the first time I saw religious Jewish people.  I always had a earning to learn about Judaism , G-D etc.  At the age of 14 my mother had a relapse of cancer.  One day through my moms roommate at Sloan Kattering  Hospital I got connected to Rabbi Zalman Liberow of ChaBaD of Flatbush. 

From that point on slowly but surely I started to progress in my level of observance and learning.  I have been Sherma Shabbos since I am 18 years old when I decided not to box on Shabbos when I was still in the amateurs.  My kids go to Yeshivah and we live in a Jewish community.  My life and schedule work around Shabbos, Jewish holidays , Kosher diet etc.

The roots of my growth as a teenager consisted of two energies that intertwined in my life and made me who I am today.  They were Starret City Boxing Club through Jimmy O and the Chabad House both influenced and supported one another with vision , growth and inspiration. 

7) What can we expect next from Salita Promotions?

Our next event is going to take place August 23rd on Showtime. Very soon we are going to announce the next fight of 2x Olympic Gold Medalist and Unified Middleweight World Champion Claressa Shields who is regarded by many as the GWOAT.  When all is said and done she will be mentioned in the same sentence with Muhammad Ali , Michael Jordan, Billie Jean King and other athletes that change the sport and come along once in a generation

8) Where can readers find you on social media?

Twitter @Dsalita Company @SalitaProm
Instagram Salita_Promotions personal Dmitriy_Salita