From the 1930s through the 1950s, professional Jewish boxers and wrestlers were quite common, and these sports drew a large Jewish audience. An exhibition at the YIVO Institute explores this episode in American-Jewish history and such colorful figures as Rafael Halperin (1924-2011), as Joseph Berger writes:
Born in Vienna, [Halperin] was the son of an Orthodox rabbi who moved the family to Palestine out of fear of growing Nazism. Halperin proved as adept at physical feats as with talmudic riddles and took up weightlifting.
After a wrestling career in America notable for his refusal to fight on the Sabbath, Halperin became an entrepreneur in Israel, opening one of the first mechanical carwashes and a successful optical chain, then becoming an ultra-Orthodox rabbi who produced an encyclopedia of rabbinic figures.