The 20th Maccabiah Games had over 10,000 athletes from 80 countries competing in 52 sports all over Israel, including local wrestler MB Klyman, who took home the bronze medal in the 97 kilogram weight class.
Earlier this year, Klyman was chosen to represent Canada in the games. He had tried out for Team USA four years ago, but was not selected for the team. His being Canadian-born made him eligible for the Canadian team as well, and it was a dream come true when he learned that he had qualified. “I was ecstatic,” Klyman said of his initial reaction to the news.
When asked about his big win, Klyman said, “It was the highlight of my wrestling career [and] athletic career.” He went on to explain, “I’ve won many tournaments and matches over the years, but this was my lifetime goal.” Klyman also expressed happiness and pride for the entire Canadian wrestling team, which won two bronze medals and one silver medal, and said he owes much of his success to the team’s head coach, David Zilberman, who was an Olympic wrestler himself.
Klyman was the first-ever yeshiva wrestling alum to participate in the Maccabiah, which was a great honor for him. “I had support from all over the yeshiva world,” he said, including Neil and Avi Ellman, the father-son pair who run the Yeshiva Wrestling Association and travelled to Israel to cheer him on in the competition. The Ellmans were part of a group of 30 people in the stands supporting Klyman, including immediate and extended family and friends.
Klyman described the feeling at the games as one of pride. “[There was] a huge amount of Jewish pride, for me, religious pride, yeshiva pride, Canadian pride,” explained Klyman. There was overall pride for the sport as well. Klyman described the whole experience as “special.”
Klyman has been wrestling for the past 17 years, since his time at TABC. He went on to start the Rutgers Wrestling Club to allow shomer Shabbat boys who are not at YU to wrestle on the collegiate level. Klyman later opened Underground Training, a training facility in Tenafly, and Barbell Chef, a kosher meal prep business which allows observant athletes to gain the nutritional edge they had not been able to get before. He used to coach at JEC and now coaches the Frisch wrestling team.
Klyman will continue training and will try to qualify for the games again in four years. He wanted to thank everyone who supported him and raised money for him to be able to attend this year’s games.
By Esti Ness
Esti Ness is a Teaneck resident, a Junior at Queens College and a Jewish Link summer intern.