British boxer Tony Milch pursuing peace in the Middle East through boxing

David Harazduk speaks to boxer Tony Milch about his Gloves and Doves initiative that aims to use boxing to help form bonds in the Middle East

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Tony Milch (Stuart Hamon)
Tony Milch (Stuart Hamon)

British boxer Tony Milch is putting his own career on hold and moving to the Middle East. “My main goal is to help develop the sport in Israel,” Milch says. The 38-year-old from Edgware hopes to achieve this goal through an initiative he is founding called Gloves and Doves.

Milch’s most transformative proposal is a joint team of Israeli Jews and Arabs that would fight together in international competitions. He also has a vision for an annual Gloves and Doves boxing tournament in Israel. Boxing is unique in that it necessarily fosters respect among its competitors. This sport is a way that Jewish and Arab kids can form lifelong relationships with one another.

Through this initiative, Milch also hopes to set up after-school boxing clubs directed at frustrated and aggressive teenagers. “Boxing reaches out to the places that other sports don’t reach,” he asserts. The sweet science provides these teens with “a sense of worth and self-esteem.”

Tony intends Gloves and Doves to deliver recreational and competitive boxing classes as well. A technical boxer himself, Milch aims “to help train the kids and amateurs out there.” Ultimately, he wants the program to “offer a career path through the sport for talented athletes wanting to progress and earn an income through professional boxing” and eventually develop world-class talent in Israel.

Milch’s is an ambitious plan that certainly has its challenges. Israel is far from a hotbed of boxing. BoxRec lists only 47 Israeli boxers since the state was founded in 1948. Only 17 of those prizefighters participated in more than five bouts. The best Israeli boxer, Yuri Foreman, fought all of his 38 professional contests in the United States and is based in Brooklyn, New York.

And, of course, tension and mistrust defines Arab-Jewish relations within Israel.

However, if there’s anyone who can succeed, it’s Milch. A passionate man, his stepfather and older brother introduced him to boxing. “I was always competitive and loved sports,” Milch recalls. At 14 years old Tony’s mother drove him to Finchley Boxing Club for the first time. “I wanted to know how to defend myself. I didn’t grow up in the roughest neighbourhood but it wasn’t 100 per cent safe either.” He fought in his first competitive match the following year.

As an amateur, Milch boxed in international tournaments. Away from boxing, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management in 2003. He moved to North London when he turned professional and has amassed a record of 14-2 including wins in his first 13 pro bouts. A super-welterweight he fought for the Southern Area title and avenged his second defeat in a rematch. Weighing 151lbs for his professional debut, the disciplined Milch weighed the same amount for his sixteenth fight, more than five years later.

Milch says of his boxing life, “After I stuck with the sport, I didn’t give up! That’s the main thing.” He’ll surely show that same determination in his latest endeavour.

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