In recent years, several Black-American athletes have made the deeply personal decision to convert to Islam. Among them is boxing sensation Gervonta Davis, who recently announced his conversion to Islam. Gervonta Davis joins a list of notable American athletes who have converted to Islam over the years.
Islam is one of the world’s largest faith traditions with more than 1.8 billion followers worldwide, making it the second-largest religion on the planet, Religion Unplugged reported.
Here are five athletes who switched their faith.
Muhammad Ali is perhaps the most famous athlete to convert to Islam. Ali embraced the faith in the 1960s. He changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali and used his platform to advocate for civil rights and social justice, Religion Unplugged reported.
The former heavyweight champion converted to Islam in 1992 while serving time in prison. Tyson’s spiritual journey provided him with a sense of purpose during a challenging period in his life.
The NBA legend converted in 1968 at the age of 20. Influenced by the civil rights movement and figures like Malcolm X, Abdul-Jabbar found solace and purpose in Islam.
“Much of my early awakening came from reading ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’ as a freshman. I was riveted by Malcolm’s story of how he came to realize that he was the victim of institutional racism that had imprisoned him long before he landed in an actual prison. That’s exactly how I felt: imprisoned by an image of who I was supposed to be,” Jabbar wrote in an article for Al-Jazeera about his faith.
The NBA star converted to Islam in 2021 and publicly shared his faith during a post-game news conference. Irving emphasized his commitment to Islam’s values of respect and understanding, Andscape reported.
Kyrie Irving converted to Islam in 2021 following an announcement that was first shared on social media by Muslim activist Dawud Walid.
“All praise is due to God, Allah, for this,” he said at the time. “For me, in terms of my faith and what I believe in, being part of the Muslim community, being committed to Islam and also just being committed to all races and cultures, religions, just having an understanding and respect. I just want to put that as a foundation.”
World-renowned boxer Davis, hailing from Baltimore, recently made headlines by converting to Islam in a ceremony at a Maryland mosque. Imam Hassan Abdi, who presided over the ceremony at Masjid Al-Hidaayah in Woodlawn, shared that Davis performed the shahada, the Islamic testimony of faith, and adopted the Muslim name Abdul Wahid, meaning “the servant of the one.”
Abdi described Davis as a down-to-earth person who engaged in a meaningful conversation about striving to be the best version of oneself as a human being. Their dialogue centered on faith and personal growth, ultimately leading Davis to take the next steps in embracing Islam, The Baltimore Banner reported.
Gervonta Davis, photo via Instagram, @gervontaa