I have followed Dmitriy Salita for some time. From an actual fighter himself to promoting and helping others learn the craft. From the perspective of an Orthodox Jew, living and working in the world of boxing and MMA is a tough enough job, given restrictions and even community upbringing, but Salita is now making his way building a business promoting these athletes and the matches, and I found that to me even more of a challenge. So, I asked him myself. The headline fight, with Ja’Rico O’Quinn taking on Saul Sanchez, will take place on Friday, September 24 and is live on the SHOWTIME network, at 10:35 p.m. ET from Main Street in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
I have not written straight Q and A before, but as this event is happening over the holidays, and as the holidays are upon us, I wanted to get this out.
CT: How do you feel about leaving the party in Crown Heights during Sukkot to travel to Oklahoma?
DS: It’s going to be a great opportunity for me to share that festive energy and most importantly my lulav and esrog with folks who may have not had an opportunity to perform and see this wonderful mitzvah.
CT: Will you have access to a sukkah while you’re there?
DS: This will be our second show in Broken Arrow. I visited Chabad there in 2019 for food and prayer services. The Rabbi and his congregation were welcoming. I am sure the sukkah will be a similar experience. I benefited tremendously from the vast network of Chabad houses that are located all over the world when I was fighting and now on this side of the fence as a promoter. Whether it’s providing me kosher food or any other Jewish need I may have, I am grateful for all that they do.
CT: Do you have opportunities to share your Judaism with others while on the road?
DS: Yes, every trip presents different opportunities. Folks in the industry from all walks of life at times inquire about my observance which leads to conversation and many times to positive experiences. At times I have to spend Shabbos at the event city in our hotel and we have all types of people at our table which leads to great conversation and a warm dynamic Shabbos meal experience.
CT: Is it common for fights to conflict with Shabbos and Holidays?
DS: There are some televised events that are on Friday night, which is the case for this upcoming event. I usually come in early in the week and leave on Friday. I am grateful for my staff that makes sure everything goes smoothly when I leave for Shabbos. Many of the events happen on Saturday night but I am usually able to make it to the event after Shabbos is over.
CT: Have you ever faced Antisemitism in your work?
CT: What other obstacles have you faced as an observant Jew in the world of boxing?
DS: Some years ago, I was negotiating with another promoter for a fight on HBO for a heavyweight fighter I promote, Jarrell Miller. This was the UK based promoter’s first show in the US and he hired my New York based company to help him co-promote the event at Nassau Coliseum. So, we were talking on Wednesday afternoon and are close on some things and far on others and at about 7:00pm on Wednesday the three-day holiday begins. I said, “no pressure, but if we don’t make the deal by 6:50pm today I will catch up with you again on Saturday night or Sunday morning as I won’t be able to talk on the phone due to my holiday observance.” When I said this to him there was silence and then “3 days off line?” We moved a little faster and the fight and event turned out to be a win for everyone.
So yes, there are challenges and opportunities. I am grateful that I am able to be involved in the sport on a high level and these situations personally add meaning to my personal journey.
CT: Any Jewish boxers coming up the ranks?
DS: The Board of Governors at the World Boxing Council recently elected me as its representative to Israel. Bringing the sport to Israel in an organized way and at all levels is something that I am interested in doing. There are several pro and good amateur boxers in Israel. There are also some (promising) initiatives for talented trainers and fighters. I am optimistic about making inroads and with time taking the sport there to great heights. There has been an explosion of high-level world-class events in the region. Israel can be in the mix as well and in due time with home grown talent.
CT: What has been the highlight of Salita Promotions thus far?
DS: Some of the highlights are working with Claressa Shields known as the GWOAT. She has accomplished many firsts as a woman and as a boxer and has helped women’s sports make big strides towards equality around the world. She is the only two-time Olympic Gold Medalist man or woman from the US in the history of the sport, and is also a two-division undisputed World Champion. In her first fight with my company in 2017 she became the first woman in sports history to headline a boxing card in the main event on premium cable television (Showtime). I had the honor of experiencing many career highlights with her in her biggest fights. I believe Claressa will go down as one of the greatest athletes of this generation similar to Muhamad Ali, Pelé, Michael Jordan and the like.
Another highlight was Promoting Jarrell Miller from his second professional fight to being 23-0 N1 World Ranked heavyweight and negotiating a multimillion dollar pay day for him in a World Heavyweight Title Unification at Madison Square Garden vs Anthony Joshua.
A further highlight was promoting one of the best heavyweights in the world, Sweden’s Otto Wallin, who fought Tyson Fury in the main event on ESPN in a fight that established Otto as one of the best in the world. We are working on another big opportunity for him. If it comes to fruition it will add to my highlights list.
CT: Where do you see your company going in the next five years?
DS: I am working to see Salita Promotions continue to grow and become one of the premiere companies in the boxing business.