UFC lightweight Natan Levy knows plenty about the value of practicing martial arts, but now he’s also trying to encourage others to learn how to defend themselves.
The 30-year-old picked up his first UFC win in April when he defeated Mike Breedan via unanimous decision, and he holds the distinction of being the only Israeli fighter in the UFC. Given the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the last few years, Levy has remained acutely aware of the challenges faced by fellow Jews around the world.
Levy decided to auction off his fight gear following his win over Breeden in April, with the proceeds being donated to survivors of the Holocaust. During an appearance on Podcast Against Anti-Semitism (h/t The Algemeiner) the 30-year-old explained what prompted the decision.
“At one point I was so nervous for my fight, it was the biggest fight of my life, and on the other hand, it’s Holocaust Memorial Day and I said to myself, ‘Why am I stressed out? Look at what these people went through, the atrocities.’”
“We Are Brave And We Can Fight”
Unfortunately, Levy’s decision to auction off his fight gear did attract some criticism. Following his announcement, the UFC fighter came under fire from a number of anti-Semitic attacks online.
The 30-year-old has encouraged “every Jewish person in the world” to practice martial arts in the interest of self-defense, but Levy has also mentioned how politics can influence tensions between different groups.
“I’ve trained many times with Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and we all get along just fine. And on the mats you can train, and kick each other’s asses, and still be friends, and leave politics out of it, even if you disagree on politics.”
Levy earned a UFC contract following a submission victory over Shaheen Santana on Contender Series 2020. His undefeated record was spoiled by Rafa Garcia when he lost a unanimous decision in his UFC debut, but a victory against Breeden proved that he’s capable of competing in the UFC’s lightweight division.
Throughout all of his success as a professional fighter, Levy has never forgotten his background and who he represents when he steps in the cage.
“I think you represent who you are and what you are in everything you do, just how you talk to people [and] how you handle yourself. For me, I represent Israel and the Jewish people, I think, and therefore when I’m in the cage and fighting, definitely I want to show that we are brave and we can fight, we can take care of ourselves [and] we are not weak.”
What do you think about Natan Levy’s call for other Jews to practice martial arts in an effort to defend themselves from anti-Semitic attacks?