An Indian-Jewish MMA and kickboxing champion, who has won a host of prestigious competitions, is set to make aliya to Israel where he hopes to compete for the Jewish state.
Obed Hrangchal, 26, has already won two gold, seven silver and two bronze national medals in Wushu, Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Karate. But what makes Hrangchal’s story unique is that he is an observant Jew and a part of the Bnei Menashe community.
The Bnei Menashe say they are descended of Jews from a lost biblical tribe, banished from ancient Israel to India in the eighth century B.C.E.
Together with his parents, Gabriel and Ruth Hrangchal, and sister Lucy, Obed is set to fulfill his life-long dream shortly after the Jewish High Holidays and immigrate to Israel, where they want to settle in the city of Nof HaGalil in northern part of the country after they complete their absorption process.
“I have always dreamt of making aliya to the Land of Israel and I am very excited at the prospect of doing so. If possible, I would certainly like to join the IDF and I would be honored to represent Israel in MMA and Kickboxing competitions,” Obed said.
The athlete hopes to complete the immigartion process with the help of Shavei Israel, an Israeli-based Jewish organization that encourages people of Jewish descent to strengthen their connection with Israel.
“We are very proud of Obed and his impressive accomplishments and we look forward to welcoming him and his family here in Israel along with the 700-plus other Bnei Menashe, whom we will be bringing in the coming year”, said Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “Obed is another outstanding example of how the Bnei Menashe can contribute to Israeli society and I hope that we will soon see him ascending the stage and winning medals for Israel worldwide,” he added.
Originally from the village of Thinghlun in the Indian state of Mizoram, the Hrangchals were the only Jewish family in town. In 2013, they sold their home and farmlands to move to the capital city of Aizawl in order to join the local Jewish community while awaiting the opportunity to make aliya.
Without the family farm, Obed’s father, was left without a job and being Jewish makes it more difficult to find steady work since Jews do not work on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.
Despite the difficulties, Obed has succeeded in garnering widespread recognition in the sporting world and has won awards in martial arts from the Mizoram State Sport Council and the Mizoram State Wushu Association, which are affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association as well as the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“I started practicing martial arts from a very young age, about 6 years old, but without proper instruction,” reports Obed Hrangchal. “As I grew up, I steadily improved and then I began to compete at the state level in 2014, when I competed in Chinese Kickboxing or Wushu and won second place. That same year, I began to study Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) under an instructor.”
Thus far, more than 4,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliya to Israel in the past two decades, thanks largely to Shavei Israel. Another 6,500 remain in India, all of whom wish to make the Jewish state their home.