Judah, Zab "Super" : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Judah, Zab "Super"

An African-American whose family has declared themselves Jewish, Zab became the undisputed world welterweight champion on February 5, 2004, when he demolished Cory Spinks in the 9th round of their title fight in St. Louis. Judah had lost a previous bout with Spinks on a decision, but this time he left nothing to question when he first knocked Spinks down, then blasted him with a barrage of punches so decisively that the referee stopped the fight. Zab was well ahead on the cards of all three judges when he won on a ninth round TKO, running his record to 33-2 with 24 knockouts.

Judah then lost his crown on January 7, 2006 when he was defeated in a unaimous decision by Argentinian Carlos Baldomir at Madison Square Garden.

Trained by his father Yoel Judah, a former world champion kickboxer, Zab reached his championship pinnacle by consistently showing himself to be a hard-hitting, crowd-pleasing pugilist. Judah's hand and foot speed were particularly outstanding. Zab's trainer, Lou Duva, always thought that Judah had greatness within him. "I had the same feeling when I took over Pernell Whitaker as an amateur," said Duva. "Zab can do anything Pernell Whitaker could, and maybe better. Zab Judah is going to be a great champion."

Birth and Death Dates:
b. October 27, 1977

Career Highlights:
Before turning professional, Zab compiled a 110-5 amateur record, winning the 1995 National Golden Gloves title, three New York Golden Gloves championships, and the 1996 PAL Nationals. The young champ is receiving praise from everyone. Barrett Silver, manager of IBF junior-lightweight champ Diego Corrales, said: "When I heard praise about Zab Judah's potential, I knew it wasn't hype. Anyone who saw him fight in the amateurs, like I did, knows he's awesome." Judah turned professional in September 1996 and won his first fight on a second-round TKO against Mike Johnson.

Judah quickly rose up the ranks of the junior welterweight division and was the No. 1 contender by 2000. When champ Terronn Millett broke his right hand and was unable to make his mandatory defense against Judah, Millett was stripped of the IBF title; on February 12, 2000, a fight for the vacant crown between Zab and Jan Bergman resulted in Judah knocking out Bergman in the fourth round. In his first title defense on June 24, Zab won a unanimous decision over Junior Witter on the undercard of the Tyson-Savarese heavyweight fight/debacle in Glasgow's Hampden Park. The victory, which improved Judah's record to 23-0 (17 knockouts) was an awkward but relatively easy affair, as Witter avoided direct exchanges and switched from right-handed to southpaw. Judah pounded him with body punches, knocked out Witter's mouthpiece in the fifth round, and eventually won the decision.

After Zab's demolition of Witter, he scheduled a championship defense against Millett, now the challenger, for August 5, 2000. "I'm not going to make any predictions," said Judah before the fight, and then made one: "I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm the best and I'm going to show the world that." Although he was knocked down in the first round, Zab demolished Millett with a fourth-round TKO after decking Millett three times previously -- once in the second, with a right to the chin, and twice earlier in the fourth round. Referee Michael Ortega waved an end to the bout after the staggering Millett was knocked down for the third time. The young Jewish champion from Brooklyn had retained his crown impressively.

The confident Judah is his own most ardent supporter. He said in an interview: "I want to hold all the titles. I want to do things no other fighter has ever done. I would like to win a title and then defend it on the same night-- fight two champions, one right after the other. I'm serious!" Before facing Kostya Tszyu in a title unfication bout, Zab had three successful title defenses: an eighth-round knockout of Hector Quiroz in October 2000, a 10th-round TKO against Reggie Green in January 2001, and a third-round knockout over Allan Vester in June 2001.

Judah then lost his IBF junior-welterweight title on November 3, 2001 to Kostya Tszyu (the WBA and WBC champ) in their unification bout. Judah was favored entering the fight. He controlled the first round, but lost on a TKO with only one second remaining in the second round after Tszyu landed a quick right to Zab's chin. Judah disputed the referee's decision to end the bout in rather spectacular fashion -- he was suspended for six months and fined $75,000 for tossing a chair and trying to choke Referee Jay Nady. Thus, it was nine months before Judah fought again. On July 13, 2002, Zab stepped into the ring for the first time since his loss to Tszyu and won a unanimous ten-round decision over Omar Weis. Almost exactly a year later (on July 12, 2003), Judah ran his record to 29-1 by winning a split decision over WBO title-holder DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley -- who entered the ring a formidable 28-1-1 -- and re-established himself as a champion.

Brooklyn, New York

Physical description:
Height 5' 7"
Reach 69"

Career Statistics:
As a professional:

Wins: 33 (24 by knockout)
Losses: 2
No contests: 1

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New York Times, July 28, 2000

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