Haim Gozali is the ‘Israeli Batman’ for a reason – just check out his tattoos. He’s also a Renzo Gracie black belt, back in action at Bellator 192 in L.A.
On Saturday, “The Israeli Batman” Haim Gozali gets back in the cage at Bellator 192. Opposite him will be Jose Campos. Campos, 1-0 as a pro, 3-0 as an amateur, will be making his Bellator debut on the night. At 8-4, and having fought names like Carlos Newton and Jacare Souza, it might seem like a lopsided advantage for Gozali. Except that, at age forty-five, Gozail’s opponent will be a full two decades younger than him come Saturday.
Can experience top youth? The Renzo Gracie black belt spoke to Cageside Press ahead of Bellator 192 on Saturday about fighting in his mid-40s, being the first Israeli fighting in Madison Square Garden, and more.
On the subject of age, Gozali was sure to correct us. “Forty-five” he told us, not forty-four, which you’ll online. Yet when it comes to keeping up with younger competition, he doesn’t feel his age. “I don’t feel nothing, I feel like I felt 20 years ago” Gozali said. “I don’t feel something different. People tell me ‘maybe after 20, the recovery is taking too long’ — I don’t know. I don’t remember how recovery was twenty years ago. So everything goes step by step, and if I can do it, I’m doing it.”
Doing it he is. Haim Gozali had his first pro fight in 1998, a loss to Canada’s Carlos Newton. Newton, of course, is a legend of the sport. Gozali hasn’t fought a ton since that time, but at 8-4 and still competing, there’s no doubt a lot of us would love that longevity.
So do his training partners ever give him a hard time about his age? “I don’t know if they know my age” said the fighter. “When I’m coming to train, all the time, it’s different people. Nobody knows my age. So sometimes I’m fighting with younger guys, they think I’m the same age.” Which wouldn’t be surprising, given Gozali’s style. The fighter is absolutely covered in ink. Some hold deep meaning, like the Star of David, and words from the Israeli national anthem. Others — well lets just say there’s a reason Gozali is the ‘Israeli Batman.’ He has plenty of Batman tattoos as well.
In addition to being the Israeli Batman, Haim Gozali is something else — the first Israeli fighter to compete in New York’s Madison Square Garden. That’s an accolade Gozali earned when he stepped into the Bellator cage as part of Bellator NYC last year. “The most crazy thing that happened to me in my life” he said of the experience.
“To be where all the legends of fighting fought, and I’m the first Israeli” he continued. “I’m always going to be the first Israeli. It’s crazy. It’s something I’m going to take with me.. my grandchildren I think are going to talk about it, to be the first one.”
Now, however, is about looking forward, not back. Just how does his fight Saturday night against Jose Campos end? “Probably a leg lock or a triangle, first round” he said. “Like always.”
Haim Gozali meets Jose Campos at Bellator 192 on Saturday, January 20 at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA. The bout airs as part of the preliminary card on bellator.com — check out our interview with Gozali below!