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Bodybuilder weighs in on hate messages after Yeshiva talk



One of South Africa’s biggest TikTok sensations, bodybuilder Noel Deyzel, known for posting fitness and nutritional tips and workout routines, received hate messages on social media after speaking at Yeshiva College Boys High School last week.

The bodybuilding guru, whose TikTok account has amassed 3.3 million followers and almost 80 million likes, is popular among teenagers.

He was invited to present a motivational talk at the Jewish school about his life and times, and how to use social media to do good.

After posting photographs on Instagram about his talk to the audience of young male adults, he received messages of hate on social media.

His response on Instagram was quick and to the point.

“I have received some awful messages and even death threats for my last story where I visited a Jewish school on their request to talk about how I use social media to create positive change in my life and the world! Let me state clearly, I don’t preference any race, color [sp], sex, or religion etc! I care for the development and upliftment of people irrespective of who/what they are.”

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies immediately reached out to Deyzel and offered its support.

National Director Wendy Kahn commended Deyzel for his “phenomenal” response, and for standing by his convictions, saying that he made it very clear that he didn’t discriminate.

Deyzel, who is also a YouTuber, entrepreneur, and social-media influencer, inspired the boys with heartwarming snippets about his life and how he managed to uplift himself from a troubled childhood in which his father was mostly absent.

Yeshiva College head of Kodesh, Rabbi Meir Zaiden, said the student leadership arranged the 30-minute talk in assembly last Thursday, 19 August, for Media Week. He said Deyzel’s presentation was inspiring and well received by the boys.

“He gives the impression of being strong and powerful, but he came across as very human. The boys were impressed about how he overcame his difficult childhood. He gave over very positive messages about how to form healthy lifestyle habits, create lasting inter-personal relationships, how to choose friends wisely, and of course how to look after your body and use social media as a platform for good.

“I think this was the first time he has spoken at a school,” he said.

Zaiden was unaware that Deyzel had received hurtful messages on social media after posting about his talk at the school.

“It’s a sad situation when someone imparts positive messages and this is misconstrued by some who turn it into something political,” he said.

He said Deyzel explained to the boys during his talk that he had received negative feedback on social media early in his career which used to hurt him, but he had learnt how to handle it and not let it stand in his way of spreading healthy, good tips for life.

After the talk, Deyzel removed his white t-shirt, and some of the boys signed their signatures on it, which was a hit.

Deyzel has said on his videos that he was bullied as a youngster for being skinny and tall which motivated him to become a bodybuilder. He started his career by creating a YouTube channel in 2008. He began uploading motivational fitness-related videos ten years later, and gained thousands of followers after embracing TikTok under the name “noeldeyzel_bodybuilder” where he continues to upload short videos.

Joey Levin, 17, a Grade 11 student at Yeshiva College and the head of the media committee, reached out to Deyzel by email a few weeks ago.

“I wanted to get somebody who had a positive message, somebody relevant that the boys would listen to and enjoy. He seemed like a good choice,” he said.

So, Levin found Deyzel’s email address online and wrote to the famous TikTokker inviting him to speak.

He wrote, “I’m running a media assembly next week, 19 August. The theme is how media can change the world for the better. You truly are an influencer who inspires so many and uses their platform for good. It would be an honour for you to come and say a few words about yourself and what media means to you and how you use your platform for good. I know you are a busy man, and I understand if this is completely bizarre ask.”

To his delight, Deyzel responded a few hours later saying, “Sounds cool. I will try to shuffle things around to accommodate.”

“Deyzel came across as kind, open, and chatty. He gave a great talk, and there were a lot of questions afterwards. His take-home message was that we are the masters of our destiny and can make changes provided we put in the time and effort and have resilience. I was upset to see that he received hateful messages after such a positive experience.”

Levin said he emailed the celebrity and said that the boys of Yeshiva College had his back, and also didn’t stand for any hate or prejudice.

Deyzel who grew up with a single mother who worked two jobs to put food on the table, says on one of his videos, “Be mindful who you let into your life.”

He has told his followers, “My father wasn’t present for the greater part of my life. Things were very tough. I know there are others now or previously facing similar situations. Remember, life is a matter of choices. We can allow our greater potential to be suppressed by our upbringing, or we can choose to fulfil the opportunities we were denied. Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.”

Deyzel didn’t respond to a request to be interviewed by the SA Jewish Report at the time of going to print.

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