Hebrew Israelite Teen Forced to Eat Pork, Despite Religious Practices — 7 Coaches Fired

June 04, 2021

By Kana Ruhalter

Seven high school football coaches forced a Hebrew Israelite teen in Canton, Ohio, to eat pork as a punishment for missing an optional weightlifting session, despite his religion’s kosher diet. According to PEOPLE magazine, the school board voted unanimously on Thursday to fire all seven coaches

Marcus Wattley, McKinley High School’s head football coach and a group of assistant coaches, allegedly forced the 17-year-old student to eat an entire pepperoni pizza in front of his teammates while they lifted weights. 

According to ABC News, the student’s religious beliefs call for the consumption of only certified kosher meat or poultry.

The student’s lawyer, Edward Gilbert, told CNN that the teen informed the coaches multiple times of his beliefs, only to be yelled at and threatened with additional exercises. Eventually, the coaches let the student take off the pepperoni slices and some cheese; however, the kosher diet still considers it unclean due to the pork residue. 

Canton Police Chief Jack Angelo told CNN that the school contacted the station to investigate an “alleged possible hazing incident.” Angelo added that the case is still an ongoing investigation and that they would share their findings with the Canton City Prosecutors Office.

The teen’s father told Cleveland TV station WEWS on Tuesday that the teen has practiced following a kosher diet since 2013. 

"I felt very upset; I felt disrespected," the teen's father said. "Makes you question if they are doing their job or are they capable of doing their job. I feel the culture is broken."

People magazine was unable to reach Wattley and the others for comment.