Sports: Boxing's Version of Middle East Peace

by Suzie Raven

The United Nations uses negotiations to try to bring peace to the Middle East. Ahmad Tuba and Raany Tal use boxing.

Tal, an Israeli Jew who owns three gyms in the Tel Aviv area, noticed Tuba, a Palestinian Arab who lives near Nazareth, when scouting for young amateur fighters to train almost six years ago.

Jews and Arabs in the Middle East often do not speak with one another, but Tuba has been training with Tal ever since the two first met. Five days a week, Tuba spends two hours each way on five different buses to get to Tal’s gym. Tal has spent time with Tuba’s family.

Their relationship is an anomaly and has helped break down barriers in people around them. It also led to Tuba’s professional debut at the Legendary Blue Horizon in North Philadelphia last week. Tuba won a unanimous four round decision against Baltimore's Vincent Batteast. Obviously, Tal wants Tuba to win fights, but the social ramifications are not lost on them. They also hope that the career of an Arab fighter with an Israeli trainer will show the world that people with their backgrounds don’t have to hate each other.

It’s sad that neighbors feel an intense hatred towards each other based on a conflict that their governments have not been able to resolve. World leaders are obviously not making tangible progress in the conflict, but people like Tuba and Tal prove that religion should not preclude friendship. Everyone deserves a fighting chance.

The columnist who broke their story on these shores, Annette John-Hall of the Philadelphia Inquirer said it best: “They have broken down barriers where high-level talks have foundered. Just another example of how sports can serve as the world's greatest ambassador.”

Tal and Tuba have forged a relationship despite all odds. Their example proves that religious differences and decades of harrowing conflict do not have to end in hatred between people. They have put us one step closer to peace in the Middle East.

(Photo by januszek of Poland via stock.xchng.)

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Anonymous said...

That is such a great story. It's really heart warming to read about supposed enemies being united by the love of sports.

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