A Holocaust Survivor’s Champion

The Fellowship  |  February 18, 2019

Elderly Jewish woman sitting next to a man while looking into the camera.

As those who survived the Holocaust live their golden years, one would think they have suffered enough. We know that is not the case, as so many endure poverty and loneliness — suffering that The Fellowship and our faithful friends work to alleviate. However, Ynet News’ Israel Moskovitch tells the story of an elderly survivor in Israel who was robbed by three young scoundrels, and the world-class boxer who stood up for her:

It was supposed to be a cruel plan to separate an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor and her money. But surely the thief never imagined that along the way he would encounter Nikolay Melandovich, a former boxing world champion.

A few days ago, police in Upper Nazareth received a complaint from Holocaust survivor Mara Sokolovsky. According to the complaint, three young men had knocked on her door and asked for water. She went to the kitchen, and when she returned with the water she saw the young men running away. Then she noticed that her handbag, containing with money, credit card and personal documents had disappeared.

Nikolay Melandovich, 47, was a professional boxer for decades. He made his debut in the sport when he just was 7, and by the age of 35 he was considered a world class boxer. He is the three-time winner of the Ukraine lightweight boxing championships, and in 2000 he won the World Championship. Since immigrating to Israel, he has been training groups of children and young people, and also works as an inspector for Upper Nazareth municipality.

“I was on duty that night and saw a guy next to the ATM,” Melandovich says. “He tried unsuccessfully to take money out several times, and I immediately went over to him. He had two other guys with him and it seemed suspicious to me.

“So I asked him what he was doing and he started to say something about wanting to take out money. Suddenly he threw down the card and I immediately called the police. I would not let him move. I knew I would keep hold of them until the police came, and within a minute they arrived. I feel that I have done something good…”