Dmitriy Salita is a 24-year-old fervently Orthodox Jew who scrupulously follows the customs and traditions of his faith. He keeps kosher, studies Torah and prays every day. Dmitriy Salita is also an undefeated professional prizefighter who packs a wallop. A walking contradiction, you say? Hardly, as revealed in this intimate, fascinating journey inside the two worlds of a remarkable young American immigrant.
Nine-year-old Dmitriy emigrated with his family from Odessa, Ukraine, and arrived in Brooklyn in 1991. Like many immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Dmitriy had only a tenuous connection to his religion. As a teenager he befriended a Hasidic rabbi affiliated with the Lubavitcher sect, and over time became observant and a dedicated student of the sacred texts. But his newfound passion for Judaism did not interfere with his passion for boxing, and before long he had won a New York Golden Gloves title and signed with a major promoter.
Orthodox Stance (the title refers to a boxing position) takes us behind the scenes as Dmitriy navigates the intense world of professional boxing. We experience his grueling training program, tense contract negotiations (including a stipulation not to fight on Friday nights) and pre-fight prayers before the North American Junior Welterweight title. In the arena, cheering him on, is his loyal fan base—hundreds of bearded, tzitzis-wearing, yarmulke-topped Orthodox Jews. As Dmitriy walks to the ring for his most important fight to date, the audience is serenaded by his friend, Orthodox Jewish rap singer Matisyahu. The scene is surreal.—Mike Silver