Eastern Eye (UK)

Indian kickboxer wins gold at Israeli contest



OBED HRANGCHAL, a 28-year-old Indian Jew from Mizoram who immigrated to Israel in 2020, has won the Jewish state’s kickboxing championsh­ip and is likely to represent the country in internatio­nal competitio­ns.

Competing in the 57-kilogram (125-lbs) category, Hrangchal won the title in the town of Kfar Yasif in the Galilee last Friday (24) at an event that drew 150 competitor­s from clubs throughout the country, Arutz Sheva news website reported.

A member of north-eastern India’s Bnei Menashe Jewish community, Hrangchal was a mixed martial arts and kickboxing champion back in Aizawl, Mizoram. He is now a yeshiva (religious Jewish educationa­l institutio­n) student in the Israeli city of Ma’alot.

Hrangchal immigrated to Israel with his family in 2020 with the help of the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organisati­on which has been at the forefront of immigratio­n of the Bnei Menashe community from Manipur and Mizoram to the Jewish state. His parents, Gabriel and Ruth Hrangchal live in Nof HaGalil, near Nazareth, the report said.

“I am very happy with this win. I always dreamed of making aliyah (immigratio­n to Israel) and becoming an Israeli champion. I now dream of representi­ng Israel in internatio­nal kickboxing competitio­ns,” Hrangchal told PTI.

He won awards in martial arts from the Mizoram State Sports Council and the Mizoram State Wushu Associatio­n while in India, which are affiliated with the Indian Olympic Associatio­n as well as the Internatio­nal Olympic Committee (IOC).

“I started practising martial arts from a very young age, about six years old, but without proper instructio­n,” Hrangchal told PTI.

“As I grew up, I steadily improved and then I began to compete at the state level in 2014 when I competed in Chinese Kickboxing or Wushu and won second place.

“That same year, I began to study Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) under an instructor,” he added.

Originally from the village of Thinghlun in the Indian state of Mizoram, the Hrangchals were the only Jewish family in town.

In 2013, they reportedly sold their home and farmlands to move to the capital city of Aizawl in order to join the local Jewish community while awaiting the opportunit­y to immigrate to Israel.

“We are very proud of Obed’s incredible accomplish­ment and we look forward to his representi­ng Israel abroad,” Michael Freund, Shavei Israel’s founder and chairman, said.

“Obed is another outstandin­g example of how the Bnei Menashe can contribute to Israeli society, each in his or her own way,” Freund said, adding, “I hope that we will soon see him winning medals for Israel worldwide.”

David Ramon, Obed’s coach at Ramon Gym Club, in Ma’alot, expects him to earn a spot on Israel’s national team and compete in the Senior Kickboxing World Championsh­ip in Portugal in November.

More than 5,000 Bnei Menashe community members have immigrated to Israel from northeaste­rn India, with the help of Shavei Israel, and another 5,000 are said to be waiting for their turn to immigrate to the Jewish state.

The Bnei Menashe, meaning Sons of Manasseh, claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were sent into exile by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago.

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 ?? ?? DREAM COME TRUE: Obed Hrangchal (right and inset) immigrated to Israel with his family in 2020
DREAM COME TRUE: Obed Hrangchal (right and inset) immigrated to Israel with his family in 2020

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