ACRE, Israel (AP) -- The bell clangs, the fight starts and the boxers come at each other. On one side is a 13-year-old Arab boy from northern Israel. His opponent comes from a Jewish town.
The Jewish fighter from the blue corner pushes his Arab adversary against the ropes before pummeling him with a barrage of punches.
Jews and Arabs have been fighting each other for decades, so boxing may seem like a strange way to build peace between the two -- but that's what the Israel Boxing Association aims for.
"It's important for me for boxing to be a bridge of meeting between young people, between Jews and Arabs in Israel," said IBA General Director William Shihada. "The boxers know each other and train together."
Shihada oversaw Israel's National Youth Boxing Championship last week in three cities over four days. In the final event, nearly 50 competitors in their early teens gathered in a hot community gym in the northern Israeli coastal city of Acre to fight their last bouts of the season.
Boxing provides a unique chance for young Arab and Jewish competitors to meet in the ring as equals, equipped with helmets and gloves and playing under the same set of rules.
"It's not important what the name of the boxer is. You can be Moshe, you can be Muhammad, you can be Dmitri," Shihada said. "We go to Europe as one team."