Defeated Jewish Boxer: UK Crowd's Hostility Surprised Me

Dmitri Salita booed when entering ring wearing Star of David logo; he was knocked out in 76 seconds.

"Israel is a good place for reflection," professional Jewish boxer Dmitri Salita from Brooklyn told reporters on Wednesday in Jerusalem, after they asked him about his future plans following his dramatic loss last week in a world championship fight.

"I feel almost like the fight never happened," said the Chabad follower on his first visit to Israel, in reference to Saturday's fight against Amir Khan in Newcastle, which was stopped in the first round after Khan delivered a flush of accurate jabs and a left hook.

"When you're fighting away from home you always expect the crowd to be in favor of the other side, but I didn't expect that they would be so one-sided," he said when asked what happened in the fight against Khan.

Thousands of fans booed Salita when he entered the ring wearing a Star of David logo on Saturday. Some 200 Chabad followers from London came to Newcastle to support him.

"It was a very intense experience," the 27-year-old boxer told reporters at the offices of the immigration-assistance group Nefesh B'Nefesh, which brought Salita to Israel.

Within 24 hours of landing in Israel with his wife, Salita faced a barrage of questions on whether they planned to immigrate to Israel ? a prospect which he says is not something they are considering at the moment.

"I very much hope Dmitry will join us and make aliyah in the near future and join the Jewish People," said Erez Halfon, vice chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh, which has brought 23,000 Jews to Israel from North America and the U.K since its foundation in 2002.

"Jews who come to visit Israel have spirit. But those who make aliya have a soul," said Head of the Jewish Agency's Aliyah Department Eli Cohen, which is Nefesh B'Nefesh's partner. "I hope you will join three million people who chose to settle here," he told the Salitas.

Finally, Claudia Katz, head of the Absorption Ministry's athlete department, said her office would offer Salita the same grants it afford Olympic athletes if he moves here.

Salita, who immigrated from Ukraine to the U.S. with his family when he was nine, thanked Nefesh B'Nefesh "for the opportunity to visit Israel and, ideally, I guess to move here." However, he said immigrating to Israel was not something we was "thinking of right now."