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Salamo Arouch

Salamo Arouch
Real name Salamo Arouch
Nickname(s) The Ballet Dancer
Rated at Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Nationality Greek/Israeli
Born (1923-01-01)January 1, 1923
Thessalonica, Greece
Died April 26, 2009(2009-04-26)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Stance Southpaw
Boxing record
Wins 238
Wins by KO 238
Losses 1
Draws 2
No contests 0

Salamo Arouch (January 1, 1923 – April 26, 2009) was a Jewish Greek boxer, the Middleweight Champion of Greece (1938) and the All-Balkins Middleweight Champion (1939), who survived the Holocaust by boxing (over 200 bouts) for the entertainment of Nazi officers in Auschwitz Concentration Camp.[1] His story was portrayed in the 1989 film Triumph of the Spirit.[2][3]


  • Biography 1
  • Professional Boxing Record (Career highlights) 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Salamo Arouch was born in 1923,[4] in Thessaloniki, Greece, one of two sons in a family that also included three daughters.[5] His father was a stevedore who nurtured his son's interest in boxing, teaching him when he was a child.[4] Arouch said that when he was 14, he fought and won his first boxing match.[6] Arouch began his boxing career at age 14 in 1937 in Maccabi Thessaloniki. A year later he won the Greek Middleweight Boxing Championship, and in 1939, he won the All-Balkins Middleweight Championship. After compiling an undefeated record of 24 wins (24 knockouts),[7] Arouch joined the Greek Army. While in the military he raised his boxing record to 27 wins (27 knockouts).

In 1943, Arouch and his family was interred in the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.[4] In Auschwitz, where Arouch was tagged prisoner 136954, he said the commander sought boxers among the newly interned and, once assured of Arouch's abilities, set him to twice- or thrice-weekly boxing matches against other prisoners.[6]

According to Arouch, he was undefeated at Auschwitz, though two matches he was forced to fight while recovering from dysentery ended in draws.[6] Lodged with the other fighters forced to participate in these matches and paid in extra food or lighter work, Salamo fought 208 matches at his estimation,[8] knowing that prisoners who lost would be sent to the gas chamber or shot.[5] Fights generally lasted until one fighter went down or the Nazis got tired of watching.[8] Arouch claimed he weighed about 135 pounds and often fought much larger men. Once, he finished off a 250-pound opponent in only 18 seconds.[8]

Though Arouch survived the war, being released from Auschwitz on January 17, 1945, his parents and siblings did not.[4][5] During a search for family at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April, 1945, he met Marta Yechiel, a 17-year-old survivor from his own hometown.[4] With Yechiel, he immigrated to Israel and settled in Tel Aviv, where he managed a shipping firm.[4][9] Arouch and Yechiel wed in November 1945 and raised a family of four.[4]

Arouch's undefeated boxing record (1937-1955) ended on June 8, 1955, when he was knocked out in 4 rounds by Italy's Amleto Falcinelli in Tel Aviv.

Arouch was a consultant on the 1989 dramatic reenactment of his early life,[9] accompanying filmmakers several times on an emotional return to the concentration camp.[5] The film takes some artistic liberties with the biographical details of his life, including the renaming of his wife and placing her in his story prior to internment.[5]

After the movie came out, another Jewish boxer from Salonika, Jacques "Jacko" Razon sued Arouch and the filmmakers for more than $20 million claiming that they had stolen his story and that Arouch had exaggerated his exploits. The case was later settled.[8]

Professional Boxing Record (Career highlights)

Result Record Opponent Method Date Round Time Event Location Notes
Loss Amleto Falcinelli KO 1955 Jun 08 4 Tel Aviv, Israel
Win Klaus Silber KO 1944 1 Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
Win Unknown Gypsy KO 1943 Mar 1 Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
Win Unknown Czechoslovak KO 1943 Mar 1 0:18 Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
Win Chaim KO 1943 Mar 3 Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
Win Artino KO 1939 2 Thessalonica, Greece
Win Papadopoulos KO 1939 1 Thessalonica, Greece
Win Anagnos KO 1937 1 Thessalonica, Greece
Win Christodoulou KO 1937 1 Thessalonica, Greece
Win Thouvenin KO 1937 1 Thessalonica, Greece

See also


  1. ^ Barak, Roy (2009-04-30). "Survived Auschwitz by boxing, Haaretz". Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  2. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (May 3, 2009). "Salamo Arouch, Who Boxed for His Life in Auschwitz, Is Dead at 86".  
  3. ^ Atlas, Teddy; Peter Kaminsky; Peter Alson (2006). Atlas: From the Streets to the Ring : a Son's Struggle to Become a Man. HarperCollins. p. 141.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Schindehette, Susan; Jack Kelley; Mira Avrech (1990-02-19). "Boxer Salamo Arouch's Death Camp Bouts End in a Triumph of the Spirit". People Magazine 33 (7). Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Taliabue, John (1989-05-14). "Fighting for life itself in a Nazi boxing ring". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  6. ^ a b c Berger, Phil (1989-12-18). "Prisoner in the ring". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  7. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (2009-05-04). "Salamo Arouch, Who Boxed for His Life in Auschwitz, Is Dead at 86". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ a b c d Schudel, Matt (May 1, 2009). "Boxer Fought for His Life at Auschwitz". Washington Post. p. B5. 
  9. ^ a b Travers, Peter (1989). "Triumph of the Spirit". Rolling Stone (570). Retrieved 2008-11-22. 

External links

  • Salamo Arouch-Daily Telegraph obituary
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