Thursday, June 24, 2021

Many consider professional wrestling to be a performance more than a sport, but Yuval Goldschmidt, an Israeli amateur wrestler making his way toward becoming a professional, says that’s not quite the way it is.

There are two main wrestling organizations in America, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and AEW (All Elite Wrestling). While both organizations use choreographed fights to tell a story, “the hits are real in both WWE and AEW fights,” Yuval explained. “However, WWE focuses more on the story they are telling, and AEW focuses more on the fight itself. You can use any prop you want while fighting, which means that there is more violence, and real injuries are more likely in AEW.”

Yuval prefers to focus on the actual fighting and the skills necessary to do it well, so he slightly favors AEW. His fighting style of choice is the athletic fighting style, which combines the technical knowledge of how to fight and flip with parkour and gymnastics, in addition to using the ropes and the ring to his advantage.

The other two fighting styles are powerhouse and technical. The powerhouse style is used by the really huge guys who have little athletic or technical abilities. The big guys attempt to win by using their size. The technical style focuses on wrestling techniques to take advantage of the opponent’s weaknesses.

While Yuval was growing up in Kibbutz Shefayim, a small kibbutz near Tel Aviv, his interest in wrestling grew while he watched WWE matches on TV and wrestling with his friends and brother. They would practice on the trampoline, flipping each other over and creatively jumping off of the trampoline. As his friends became interested in other things, Yuval remained focused on wrestling, until he decided that he wanted to become a professional.

The one wrestling term with which I was familiar is “heel,” where the heel is the antagonist in the storyline that plays out throughout fights. Yuval does not want to ever play a heel. He describes his wrestling persona as “me, but 100 times more. A charismatic and fearless guy with a lot of skill, who fights hard and clean with tons of excitement.”

Yup. That is Yuval in a nutshell. Despite his big wrestler’s size, he is friendly, always wearing a huge welcoming smile. It might not sound scary or intimidating for the wrestling ring, but don’t let Yuval fool you—he’ll fight with skill and hit you hard, despite always wearing that 1,000-megawatt smile.

In some ways, Yuval is like Shrek—a big scary looking fighter with a bigger heart. His walk-out song in fact is “Allstar,” by Smashmouth, the very theme song used in the movie. I suggested that with his persona and the walk-out song, he should paint himself green and appear in the ring looking like the famous character. That could be your hook, I told him. He didn’t take my suggestion.

When Yuval comes out to fight, he dresses in costumes that he designs and produces himself. All of them have a picture of an eagle, representing him, “strong and fierce, but graceful and the king of the sky.” Yuval doesn’t only design his own wrestling costumes, he produces originals for other Israeli wrestlers too.

Israel has four independent professional wrestling companies: Israeli Pro Wrestling Association, All Wrestling Organization, Israel Wrestling League and Ultimate Wrestling Israel. All of them host matches between local Israeli fighters who are on their roster. Professional World Wrestling Entertainment’s professional wrestlers from America have come to Israel to play in matches produced by the IWPA and the IWO.

Unfortunately, professional wrestling isn’t strong enough in Israel for Yuval to make a career out of it. The 21-year-old is currently training in Germany with the hope of moving to Florida, the heart of professional wrestling and, from there, fight his way into the professional wrestling circuit.

Follow Yuval’s progress and keep up to date on all Israeli wrestling news with the “קלוזליין” /Clothesline Facebook group, named for the popular wrestling move in which one wrestler runs with his arm out, parallel to the floor, aiming to hit his opponent in the neck or chest and knock him over.

Danielle grew up in Teaneck, and made aliyah to Jerusalem following her graduation from Rutgers University. Danielle teaches English at colleges in Jerusalem and has been involved in both formal and informal education for a variety of organizations. Danielle believes that important life skills and lessons are often not ones learned in the classroom, but can be learned from team sports.

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