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Top 20 Under 40- Ariel Helwani

Shalom Life presents our 2nd annual 'Top 20 Under 40'. Day 1 features MMA journalist, Ariel Helwani.

By: Rebecca Ihilchik
Published: February 1st, 2012 in Culture » Society » Interviews
Ariel Helwani
Shalom Life is proud to present our 2nd annual ”Top 20 Under 40” list. This list encompasses 20 individuals of diverse occupations and backgrounds from businessmen and businesswomen and innovative entrepreneurs, to philanthropists, entertainers, doctors and more, the list places a spotlight on the myriad of talented, creative and passionate Jews, all under 40, who call Canada home.

Top 20 Under 40- Ariel Helwani

Age: 29

Not too many sports fanatics can make a career out of their passion, but just call Ariel Helwani lucky.

29-year-old Montreal native Helwani has made it big time in the field of mixed martial arts broadcasting. A relatively young game, mixed martial arts (more commonly known as MMA) is a full-contact combat sport whose competitors fight using martial and non-martial disciplines such as boxing and Brazilian jiujitsu, among others. It’s like pro wrestling, only fighters are allowed to kick and punch, and it’s actually unscripted.

Helwani recalls being introduced to combat sports early on in life. An uncle had represented Lebanon in judo at the 1976 Olympics, and his family were major fans. “I remember watching UFC 1 with my uncles,” he says. “We were all very interested in combat sports growing up, so this intrigued us. I loved the athletes, the fights, the atmosphere, how real everything was, and perhaps most importantly, that it was an underdog kind of sport.”

Following his dream of becoming a sports reporter, Helwani obtained a journalism degree from Syracuse University and worked for three years in television production. Zeal for the sport had him launching his own MMA blog, JarryPark.com - and it’s only snowballed from there. Helwani is now a journalist for MMAFighting.com and NBC Sports, hosts the hugely popular podcast The MMA Hour, and is a reporter for UFC Tonight on FUEL TV.

In MMA circles, Helwani is known for his professionalism and high-quality reporting, and is recognized as one of the most popular journalists around. He’s been honoured with the title MMA Journalist of the Year at the World MMA Awards two years in a row now - no mean feat for a guy that started out hosting a college radio show airing 7 am Saturday mornings.

He describes his feelings about making it this big this quickly as “very strange.”

“I always dreamed of this happening,” he says, “but I didn’t think it actually would.” He hopes to continue covering the sport on “the biggest stages possible,” maintaining that he’d like to keep his roots online in order for fans to be able to access his work for free regardless of where they live.

Despite the fact that he currently resides in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Helwani says Montreal “will always be my home.” He goes there to visit his parents and jewelry designer wife Jaclyn Stein’s family four to five times a year, usually around the Jewish holidays. And when he’s not working or traveling, what’s a hardworking MMA journalist to do?

“I love to play sports - particularly basketball - hang out with my wife, go to nice restaurants with her, relax,” he says. Then adds, of course, “And read up on the latest MMA news.”


Shalom Life is currently searching for the best and brightest Jews under 40 in New York who have gained recognition in business, entertainment, philanthropy, technology and more. Please send suggestions to top20NY@shalomlife.com

Related articles: Top 20 Under 40, 2nd Annual, Profiles, Ariel Helwani, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, Sports, UFC, FUEL TV, Fight, Jewish, Montreal
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