From Auschwitz to the Boxing Ring: This boxer was a real life gladiator that sent 14 of his opponents to their death

Harry Haft’s extraordinary life began in Bełchatów, Poland. A mere 14 year old, he faced the grim reality of the German invasion in 1939.

Sentenced to the horrors of Auschwitz as a teenager, Haft’s story took an unimaginable turn. The Nazi guards got to know that Haft could box. So they subjected him to compete against fellow prisoners, where defeat meant execution.

Forced into a life-and-death struggle, Haft defied the odds by emerging victorious in every bout. Remarkably, he faced opponents from his hometown. This was because the Nazis routinely dispatched individuals from the same communities to concentration camps. Between 1943 and 1945, Haft competed in 76 matches. Each opponent ended up disappearing from his life forever.

In a daring act of desperation, Haft seized an opportunity during a death march in April 1945. He killed a Nazi soldier and took his uniform in order to escape. After that, Haft ran from village to village for weeks.

Upon reaching Allied-controlled Germany, Haft weighed only 110 pounds. He then spent the next two years getting well in a camp for refugees.

At the age of 22, Haft sought a fresh start in the United States in 1948. This was facilitated by the support of an uncle residing in New Jersey.

His path took a surprising turn as he transitioned from a survivor of Auschwitz to a competitor in the American boxing scene. There, he competed as a light heavyweight prizefighter and made a career doing so.

Harry Haft’s indomitable spirit and resilience found a cinematic expression in ‘The Survivor.’ It is a film that graced HBO screens on April 27, 2022. The movie was released during Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Harry Haft’s journey from the depths of Auschwitz to the boxing ring stands as a testament to the human spirit’s ability to triumph over unimaginable adversity. His story is one of survival, courage, and the pursuit of a new beginning in the face of unparalleled challenges.