by David Bale –
Erez Cohen is a former member of Israel’s Maccabi team in the martial arts. Since moving to Canada he has competed in judo, representing this country in the Maccabiah. Now, he’s been made coach of Maccabi’s Team Canada in Judo.
Problem is: while the USA, Russia, Argentina and others have dozens of judokas at the Maccabiah (aka the “Jewish Olympics”), Canada’s judo team is tiny. When Cohen competed in the last Maccabiah, he was one of an only two-man team.
Now, as coach, he is cultivating a team to take to the 2013 Maccabiah in Israel and he is certain there are Canadian Jewish Judo athletes out there, who can and should be recruited. His job is to find them or train new ones.
Coaching from his home gym in Toronto, PowerClub on Eglinton West, where he is CEO and chief trainer, Cohen is planting seeds for a future team, all the while training the four current members of the squad, which includes the likes of Roman Abramowicz, a 25-year-old immigrant from Kirgistan, who is also Canada’s reigning national judo champion.
Preceding Cohen as Maccabi Canada judo coach was longstanding team captain Mark Berger, an Olympic bronze medalist originally from Russia.
Cohen has been spreading the word about next summer’s Maccabiah at competitions and with the help of judo coaches – Jewish and non-Jewish alike — around the country, keeping eyes open for Jewish judo talent.