By Scott Sams, CBS 11 News

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Yuri Foreman is proving that a professional athlete can fully commit to his or her faith while still achieving personal and competitive goals. He recently shared this message with the students at Yavneh Academy of Dallas.

Foreman is a boxer and former super welterweight champion. But two worlds collide every time he steps into the ring. “When I’m in the ring and there are a lot of lights, and there are thousands of people – and not all of them are for you,” Foreman said, “I realize that I am very small.”

The boxing champ is also an Orthodox Jew who is studying to become a rabbi.

Foreman credits his strong faith for his strength in the ring. “In boxing, you might train, lift weights, and you are ready to go,” Foreman explained. “But if your spirit is not strong, it doesn’t matter how strong you are physically. You are just going to get tired and be mush in three or four rounds. So, in this moment, Judaism helps me to realize that.”

Foreman has always been physically strong. A Russian immigrant who grew up in Israel, he learned to box at age 7. His growth in Judaism did not begin until he moved to New York and met his now-wife. She asked him about the Jewish holidays. “She asked me what is Purim,” Foreman said. “I couldn’t tell her. I told her it was like Jewish Halloween.”

“Then she asked me a couple more questions about Shabat and Passover, and my answers were worse and worse,” Foreman continued. “I started feeling ashamed.” That is when Foreman decided to visit with a rabbi, and learn more about his spirituality.

The experience was eye-opening for Foreman. “He told me that life is like two boxers, and Judaism helps you to get ready for a battle,” Foreman said. “There is always a constant fight and, sometimes, when you are not ready, life hits you and life hits you very hard. And just like a boxer, you find yourself on your back.”

The key to success in boxing is the same as the key to success in faith – staying focused on your goals.

“Judaism helps you to overcome tough challenges, tough moments, and gives you that strength,” added Foreman. “Just like a boxer when he gets knocked down, just like a boxer when he gets back up on his feet and keeps fighting.”

Foreman’s next fight is scheduled for March 12 in Las Vegas.

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