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These Are The Muslim Boxers Who Flexed Their Faith Inside and Outside the Ring

from prayer mats to boxing mats

If boxing and Islam have one thing in common, it’s discipline. While it may seem like the two are radically different, both realms advocate for the well-being and constant care of the body, while also emphasizing the importance of mental and physical strength. As boxers undergo rigorous training routines, adhere to strict diets, and push themselves to their limits to achieve peak performances, Muslims are encouraged to stick to a regular praying schedule and yearly fasting, amongst other practices, in order to reach an as-close-as-it-can-get feeling of inner-peace and spiritual fulfillment. 

Although the representation of Muslims in professional sports has traditionally been few and far between, things seem to have taken a turn for the better in recent decades, as we have collectively started witnessing a growing presence of Muslims in most, if not all, Olympic disciplines, including boxing.  

Below, we rounded up some of the most iconic Muslim boxers who flexed their faith inside and outside the ring. 

Muhammad Ali


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Born Cassius Clay, the late Muhammad Ali is considered to be one of the most iconic boxers of all time both for his in-ring performances and activism, especially after having spent a substantial amount of time behind bars for refusing to take part in the Vietnam War. 

Known for his quick footwork, lightning fast jabs, and quotable trash-talking, throughout his career, Ali’s skillset earned him three heavyweight boxing championship titles and became the first fighter to be crowned that many times before retiring in 1981.

Ali, who passed away seven-years-ago following a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease, embraced Islam publicly in 1964, after winning a major trophy, stating that he is “not a Christian anymore” and that he believed in “Allah and in peace” instead. 

The story of his conversion allegedly came after a member of the Nation of Islam reached out, sharing a newspaper that featured a cartoon depicting a white slave owner forcing his slaves to pray to Jesus. He was then convinced that black people like himself were coerced into Christianity rather than abiding by it out of actual conviction. Ali later revealed that the cartoon “did something to (him) (…) and it made sense.”

Dwight Muhammad Qawi


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Boasting world champion status in not one but two weight classes, the former professional boxer held the esteemed WBC and Ring magazine light heavyweight titles from 1981 to 1983, followed by the WBA cruiserweight title from 1985 to 1986 before being inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004. According to reports online, Qawi converted to Islam in the 1980s, and changed his name from Dwight Braxton to Dwight Muhammad Qawi soon after.

Mike Tyson


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Undoubtedly one of the most iconic heavyweight fighters of all timeMike Tyson’s talent and tenacity in the ring earned him many nicknames from “Iron Mike” to “Kid Dynamite” as well as “The Baddest Man on the Planet” when reached the peak of his powers during 1985 to 2005.

Throughout his decades-long career, the former professional boxer consistently demonstrated exceptional fighting ability, solidifying his place in boxing history on top of being a considered a legend of the sport in his own right. Tyson’s personal life has also been a topic of fascination, with reports suggesting that he converted to Islam in 1992 and changed his name to Malik Abdul Aziz while in prison. 

Last year, the athlete visited Mecca, the most sacred holy place of Islam, with US-Palestinian producer DJ Khalid to perform Umrah. 

Matthew Saad Muhammad


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Inspired by Muhammad Ali’s conversion to Islam,  the former WBC Light Heavyweight Champion of the World for two-and-a-half years decided to follow his role model’s footsteps and embraced the world’s most followed faith not long after Ali initially did.

Amir Khan


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Widely recognized by many as a generational talent, which he almost consensually was, Amir Khan has a long list of records associated with his name, having notably bagged a World Champion title not only once but twice on top of being Great Britain’s youngest Olympic medalist ever. Born to Pakistani parents, the Bolton-born athlete is as you can imagine a devout and proud Muslim, who has consistently embraced his faith as a source of inspiration and strength throughout his 17-year-long career.

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