Volume 8, Issue 7 / Sivan 5765 / July 2005
Yoel Rozbozov is focused and has worked hard to reach his much deserved international status.
"I am not going to Beijing in 2008 just to participate. I am going to Beijing to bring back a medal." That's simply the way that this incredibly poised and confident young man, the winner of the silver medal in the European Judo championships held in May in Amsterdam, speaks. Yoel Rozbozov is not bragging. This immigrant to Israel from Azerbaijan in 1991 to Kiryat Yam is not arrogant or conceited. While he could rest on his previous achievements, he does not. Yoel is focused and has worked hard to reach his much deserved international status. He sets his goal and follows his plan to attain it. He learns from every match and every experience. Yet, he is not without natural talent and as for energy, he must have invented those protein bars.
"When I was little, in Azerbaijan, I used to run around all the time. I never stopped. After we immigrated, and my parents didn't know this at the time, I used to clean homes four hours a day after school so that I could make enough money to buy a basketball and to sign up at the local judo club. Well, I never bought the basketball because my mother needed new shoes. Remember, we were new immigrants and we did not have extra money. Anyway, I bought them for her but, yes, I did make it to the judo program."
And Yoel excelled. A national youth champion in judo from the age of 13, he was asked to join the elite athletes and train at the Wingate Institute. "My mother was worried," explains Yoel. "After all, we came from the Former Soviet Union and living away from home did not permit one to return home on Shabbat and holidays like in Israel."
Although Yoel's mother, now a mathematics teacher in a local high school, was concerned, she did not prevent Yoel from going to Wingate. His father, an engineer, on the other hand, was very encouraging. "He is my father and psychologist. When I am in the midst of a judo match, I close my eyes and see him shouting instructions and encouragement."
Yoel is always focused and directed. Already a veteran of the Athens Olympics and the recent European judo championship, he has his immediate future well thought out. He is now training towards the world championships that will be held in Cairo in September. Upon his return, Yoel will begin his studies in business administration at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. He is most eager, however, to marry his girlfriend, Era (Rina, in Hebrew), who he has known since he was 12 years old. "Era is the real hero. She is studying for a degree in rehabilitative education and wants to work with young children who are learning and physically challenged." A wedding in the summer of 2006 is planned.
Then, it is back to the long training hours in preparation for the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing, China. "On Shabbat, however, I let my body rest," Yoel explains. "A body is like a car. You can only put so many kilometers on it. I train so hard and so frequently that I sometimes feel that I have already used up the amount of kilometers my body has been allotted."
Indeed, Yoel has broken his nose and fingers and bruised his ribs more times than he can remember. Plastic surgery, as a result of the many hits he has taken, has been performed on his ears, although his hearing has not been affected. Still, his face remains young looking and he is incredibly good-natured and friendly. His blue eyes are attractive and striking.
"I have plans beyond judo. Thanks to the Jewish Agency and its financial support while I was training for the Olympics, I was able to save some money that I will use towards my college tuition. Then, I will use my college degree to start a non-profit organization that will help children who have asthma but who, nevertheless, want to become athletes." Yoel then lets it slip that he has been asthmatic since he was one-year old. Just another reason to admire this bright, warm and pleasant young man!
Written by: Arnie Bendor