Name: Nili Block
Hometown: Ramat Beit Shemesh
Profession: Professional Thai Boxer
Sport: Thai Boxing
Nili just returned from the world championchip in MuayThai in Belarus.
Chana Rachel: What is Mauy Thai?
Nili Block: Muay Thai comes from the Thai language. People who don’t understand sports call it Thai Boxing, but its really Muay Thai.
CR: How did you get into boxing?
NB: My mom took me to my first class when I was 10. She was volunteering at ‘Magav’ and wanted to find a self-defense class. She found my coach Benny Cogan. I was always the tomboy in the family, except for boxing, I was always up to different sports; Basketball, soccer, gulfing, runs.. I always loved sport. Eventually my mom got injured and I kept on going to the class alone. At the time my parents were going through a divorce so it was good for me to get out of the house. As the years went on I kept on going and today I'm getting to my full potential because I have a good base from a young age
CR: I see you’ve been going Facebook live with these Ice baths, tell us more about that.
NB: Its literally an ice bath; with cold water and ice.
It’s good for recovery after a fight or a good beating. It reduces inflammation and swelling if you take it within 24 hours. After that I wait around an hour and take a hot shower.
CR: At what stage did you start your professional boxing career?
NB: I was 17 and had just received my first drafting letter. I sat with myself and thought: what I am doing with my life?. It was either following my dream of becoming a combat soldier or a following the dream of being a professional athlete; I wanted both. I knew I couldn’t do the both so I listed the pros and cons and came to the conclusion: I already gave up so much in my life for sports, that there was no going back. I knew that if I were to go back to sports later it would be more difficult in the future, so I just went for it. I was on the national football team at the time and I had a dream of becoming an Olympic athlete, and football wasn’t on the Olympic sports, so I chose the next closest thing- Boxing. Muay Thai is not on the Olympics today either, however I believe that in 2028 it will be.
Nili, age 11 at her first official competition (Nili, left)
CR: What’s your biggest boxing achievement so far?
NB: Winning the world championship in Sweden exactly 1 year ago, which qualified me to take part in the world games in Poland this July. This is parallel to the Olympic fights- its 8 fighters and I’m one of them. It’s a dream come true to me because its something I’ve been working on for the past 3.5 years.
CR: What’s your secret piece of clothing to wear for working out?
NB: I have specific shirts that fit me in a way that emphasize my physic.
Photo: Yoav Alon
CR: What the inspirational sentence that keeps you going?
NB: It’s a sentence that goes through my head many times, even now when I did the ice bath. You need to gather mental strength because it puts you out of your comfort zone. You need do it now so you can be successful in the future; when I say future I mean 2-3 days from now. You need to try to become 1 with the water and stay relaxed. I put all of my emotions aside and just do what I have to do.
CR: Do you see a connection between boxing and Judaism?
NB: 100%. When I do it and participate, I’m not just representing myself and my coach; I'm representing my country. As a religious believer I’m representing that as well, the good side of Israel. When I go into the ring there are 4 corners and before the flight there's Thai music playing and you do a ritual dance, called the ‘Wai kru’, which shows respect the coach, the gym and referee. Everyone picks what they want to do, and what I do is go from corner to corner and say ‘Shma Yisrael’, that way I feel the Shchina close within me in the ring.
Nili will be taking part in the World games in Poland B”H in July and we are wishing her all the luck in the world. Stay tuned on Instagram: @niliblock and @chanabana.
Nili Block and Chana Rachel Weinberg. Two proud Beit Shemeshers
Photo by: Ben Bencho, on Facebook.com/@benchoiswatchingyou