Nobody can accuse Ran Nakash of taking the easy road. A career soldier in the Israel Defense Force, he has seen plenty of combat action. During peacetime, the 29-year-old is the IDF's head trainer of Krav Maga, an Israeli fighting system.
Tougher still, however, may be Nakash's other career — professional boxer. Using his heavy-handed punching style, he has been turning heads in the boxing world, achieving a professional record of 12-0, with eight wins by knockout.
Although he lives and trains in Tel Aviv, Nakash has actually made his name in boxing at the Legendary Blue Horizon right here in Philadelphia, where the opponents are a good deal tougher than the professionals in Israel. In his four wins in Philadelphia, Nakash has visually represented the Jewish people, with a Star of David tattooed on his back and another etched into his trunks.
He makes his return to the Blue Horizon on June 6, and may be in for his toughest fight yet — when the cruiserweight moves up to the heavyweight division to face James Porter.
Although Nakash normally fights at a weight of 200 pounds, since he has agreed to fight as a heavyweight, he'll be facing a man who outweighs him by a good 20 to 25 pounds.
While in town, Nakash and his trainer/manager Ranaan Tal are also scheduled to speak to the Men's Club at Old York Road Temple Beth Am on June 4.
"I am excited to meet with the Jews in Philadelphia who are interested in boxing," said Nakash. "We have two things in common: We are Jewish, and we love boxing."
Although Porter's record is just 5-12, he is known as a hard fighter with an iron jaw. He hasn't been knocked out since 2002 — 14 fights ago. If Nakash is on his way to becoming a nationally ranked fighter or even a world champion, he must be impressive against Porter, said Don Elbaum, who creates the match-ups at the Blue Horizon.
"I think Nakash can knock walls over," said Elbaum. "Porter's a grizzled opponent that makes you fight, makes you hustle. He's impossible to stop. If Nakash stops him, people are going to notice."
Tal, Nakash's trainer and manager, does not just think his fighter will win by a knockout, he's actually guaranteeing it.
"He's going to be knocked out, 100 percent," declared Tal, who runs the Combined Martial Arts gym in Tel Aviv and manages a stable of professional Israeli boxers. "Ran is ready to go. He looks much more fit — less fat and more muscle. He's looking forward to meeting this guy."
Twice in his career, Nakash has fought as a heavyweight, and twice he's won. But to bring his career out of the boxing clubs and into the arenas, he has to continue to win — and win impressively.
"After this fight," he noted, "I hope to keep climbing in the cruiserweight division, and hopefully, end up on top."