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Indian immigrant wins Israeli kickboxing championship; likely to represent Israel in international competitions

Obed Hrangchal, a 28-year-old Indian Jew from Mizoram who immigrated to Israel in 2020, has won the Jewish state's kickboxing championship.

Obed Hrangchal

Obed Hrangchal (JTA)



Updated: 22 March 2023 2:40 PM GMT

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-kilogramme (125-pound) category, Hrangchal won the championship in the town of Kfar Yasif in the Galilee on Friday 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. 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 said.

“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 the 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 north-eastern 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.

The Sephardi Chief Rabbi declared the Bnei Menashe community as descendants of Israel in 2005 facilitating their aliyah to Israel.

Kickboxing is a combination fight (between two people) of kicks and punches in a controlled manner. According to the Kickboxing Federation of India, kickboxing is a very fast-growing martial art sport in the world.

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