OBLAS AND SELTZER FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT
The sports of boxing, kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are not oftentimes associated with the Jewish community, but two locals are doing what they can to change that.
On July 28 at Wild Bill’s Fight Night in Duluth, members-of-the-Tribe David Oblas – fight promoter – and Rachel Seltzer – a Buckhead real estate agent by day currently carrying a 5-1 record – will bring a double-dose of yiddishkeit to the main event as Seltzer squares off with Alpharetta resident Mary Matia (13-3).
Oblas and Seltzer have each been Atlanta residents for nearly 30 years and are both heavily involved in the combat sport of testing one another’s skills in the ring. Oblas has been in the business of promoting for more than a decade, helping to put together more than 100 fight nights; he’s been responsible for all the biggest bouts in Atlanta since 2002 and is the resident fight promoter for Wild Bill’s Fight Night.
Seltzer has been competing for more than two years in kickboxing, has never lost a fight in the state of Georgia and doesn’t plan to anytime soon.
Rachel graduated from North Springs High School and Georgia State University and Oblas went to Chattahoochee High School and Auburn University.
“This is what I love doing,” said the 34-year-old Rachel, a graduate of North Springs Charter High School and Georgia State University. “I started taking cardio kickboxing classes, and it just clicked with me. I’ve suffered from Crohn’s disease since I was 12 years old and always felt very weak; and I was.
“I had no muscle and was never really able to participate in any type of sport. I started building muscle and felt empowered by kickboxing. When I watched girls from my gym compete one day, I decided I was ready to take on the challenge of competing myself.
“Now, three years later, I’m ready for one of the toughest females in Georgia.”
Oblas, who has had Seltzer fight for him three times in the past, knows the importance of this fight. To take away some of the tension, the two have organized meetings each Tuesday for lunch.
“It’s a good stress relief after my Tuesday morning sparring session,” said Rachel of the meetings. “Since I’m an amateur and I can’t be paid by the promoter for a fight, I told Oblas he’s buying me a meal each week.”
Oblas enjoys the opportunity as well.
“For me, it’s just a nice break to meet up with the best-looking fighter on my roster,” he smiled. “All my other fighters are not only guys, but they’re so incredibly ugly from getting their face pounded in all day long; Rachel is not only a great fighter, but she’s easy on the eyes as well.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a fight contract that stipulated ‘zero pay, but free Goldberg’s lunches,’” he continued with a chuckle. “This might be a first.
“The only negative about our lunch meetings is that the staff there now knows us as fighter and promoter. When we go in there and she’s got a black eye after sparring, I get the evil eye from the whole staff.”
To prepare for fights, Rachel trains twice a day, six days a week. Her routine includes interval training in the morning and time in the evening at Knuckle Up Fitness in Sandy Springs, but every work out is different so as to incorporate strength and conditioning, sparring, bag work and more.
Her training regimen is made more difficult by working a 50-hour work week as the Assistant Community Manager at The Goodwynn in Brookhaven.
“I’m working harder than ever before to beat Mary and win the [International Sport Karate Association] 127-pound title,” she said. “Nothing will stop me. I’m focused, determined and ready for this. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, and she won’t be able to match my intensity in the ring.”
For Oblas, this is new territory, as his normal event usually sees a couple 200-pound guys in the MMA main event rather than a couple of much-lighter female fighters showing off their skills.
“This is one of the biggest fight nights for me,” he said. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see both Mary and Rachel climb through the ranks of Georgia fighters and become two of the most talented female fighters in Georgia, if not the Southeast. This is a fight that I’ve wanted for a long time [and] I think it’s the fight that our fans have wanted for a long time.
“Going into this, Rachel is a huge underdog. If she beats Mary, she’ll instantly become the no. 1 female fighter in Georgia. Every female fighter in Georgia has backed away from fighting Mary, [each] citing different reasons. Rachel asked for this fight.”
Female fighting, once considered a sideshow, has been receiving more notoriety as the skill of the female fighters has increased. It’s not uncommon to watch a kickboxing or MMA event and have the fight of the night be two females.
With names like Christy Martin, Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg growing in recognition and Strikeforce – owned by the same company that owns the Universal Fighting Championship – routinely featuring female fights, the day when UFC promotes a female fight is definitely not something that’s too far away.
“The better our fights, the better our skill level and the more entertaining us females are in the ring or the cage, the better our chances of getting placed in national television fights,” Seltzer said. “It’s not going to be long until us females are mentioned in the same breath as our male counterparts with regards to fighting.
“It’s not just something for the boys anymore.”
By Josh Steinberg
For The Atlanta Jewish Times