In school he was constantly bullied owing to his strange accent and clothes. Motivated by the abuse he soon began learning karate. At 13, encouraged by his brother, Salita switched over from karate to boxing, and he began to train at Starrett City Boxing Club in predominantly black East New York, Brooklyn.
At 14, Salita's mother died of cancer, leading him to embrace religion and become an Orthodox Jew as a member of the Chabad. He began keeping kosher and studying with a rabbi.
In 2001, Salita won the New York Golden Gloves fighting at 139 pounds.
On December 4, 2009, Salita fought Amir Khan at Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom. Despite pressure from their respective fans (Khan is Muslim), both fighters vowed not to bring religion into the fight. Salita lost in a first round knockout.
Salita's fights attract huge numbers of Orthodox Jews—men in yarmulkes, women with heads covered and boys with tzitziot fringes hanging from their shirts— many of whom chant "Dima," one of his nicknames.
At his bouts Salita enters the ring to the sounds of Haga Nagila and wears a Star of David on his shorts.
Says his manager, Jimmy O'Pharrow, owner of the Starrett City Boxing Club: "The kid looks Russian, prays Jewish and fights black."