Joshua Ben-Gurion, reportedly America’s only professional Jewish wrestler, says he grew strong on gefilte fish and kugel.
Joshua Ben-Gurion, reportedly America’s only professional Jewish wrestler, says he grew strong on gefilte fish and kugel.

‘What of Jews in Russia?’ (1951); IDF captain turns to pro wrestling (1991)

May 25, 1951

Editorial: What of Jews in Russia?

What has been the fate of Jews in Soviet Russian and her satellite countries?

The question was brought officially before the international tribunal of the United Nations Human Rights Commission recently. Members received a memorandum from the Jewish Labor Committee revealing the spiritual and cultural “genocide” suffered by Jews in Russia and Soviet dominated countries.

The memorandum, based on evidence carefully collected, disclosed that, according to Soviet reports, there were 3,000,000 Jews in Soviet Russian in 1931. Since World War II some 2,000,000 more were added. Their fate is shrouded in mystery. For nearly two years not a word about them has filtered through the Iron Curtain

Little is known of other minorities in the Soviet Union except what is contained in the official Communist press, but Soviet Jews lack even this official mention for there is not a single Yiddish newspaper in all of Soviet Russian. Not a single Yiddish book has been published in the last few years, nor has one act of cultural, literary, or religious activity by Jews been reported in the Communist press, indicating and kind of Jewish group life in the entire country.

In the judgment of the Labor Committee, this is an alarming situation. Until two years ago, Soviet propaganda boasted of its Yiddish schools theaters, books, writers and other cultural activities. What has happened?

ben-gurion poses triumphantly in front of an Israeli flag, wearing a wrestling prize belt, aviator sunglasses and an IDF uniform jacket
Joshua Ben-Gurion, reportedly America’s only professional Jewish wrestler, says he grew strong on gefilte fish and kugel.

May 24, 1991

IDF captain shifts army machismo to pro wrestling

Many Jewish boys grow up with their mothers telling them to become doctors or lawyers. In fact, Joshua Ben-Gurion’s mom probably tried to convince him to do just that when he was growing up in northeast Philadelphia.

It clearly didn’t work.

Opting for the opposite end of the vocational pendulum, Ben-Gurion is in the “ring” business. Not jewelry — wrestling.

That’s professional wrestling, with its flying bodies, masked competitors and screaming fans.

The 31-year-old Tel Aviv native — who goes by Ben-Gurion, but like many wrestlers, will not reveal his name — has been wrestling professionally since his high school graduation. He reportedly is America’s only professional Jewish wrestler.

Always a big kid, Ben-Gurion, now towering over 6 feet, 10 inches tall and 300 pounds with a 56-inch chest, hooked up during high school with former wrestling great Gorilla Monsoon.

During Ben-Gurion’s senior year, the two went to a wrestling show. Afterward, Monsoon introduced Ben-Gurion to Killer Kowalski. Kowalski noted that Ben-Gurion was built like tag-team partner Big John Studd.

“He told me he could use a person to switch off with Studd,” Ben-Gurion recalled. “Killer Kowalski ended up training me at this Massachusetts camp. That is how I began learning the business. It was a great honor to be trained by such a person.”

Ben-Gurion, who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Israel, where he is a reserve captain in the Israeli air force, has wrestled across the nation and world. He has been to Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa. Currently he is the California heavyweight champion.

When Ben-Gurion enters the ring for matches, he shows his Jewish colors, wearing Israeli flag tights, Jewish stars on his boots, and an official Israel Defense Force jacket — approved by the Israeli government to be worn outside the Jewish state.