The Muslim religion is among the largest and fastest growing religions in the world. Athletes are often outspoken about their religion and who they tank for the “blessed” life they live. Some of the greats in sports history have accredited Allah, the Muslim deity, with their personal values and athletic ability. Complex put together a list of some of the most dominant players in their respective sports, that are also Muslim. Check it out below!
Mike Tyson is one of the most prolific boxers the heavyweight division has ever seen. Tyson burst onto the scene in 1981 and never looked back. Over his career, Mike racked up 50 wins, 44 of which were knockouts, and only tallied six losses. Towards the end of his career, Tyson became infamous when he bit one of his opponent’s ear. This was during a dark period in his life, where he was struggling with addiction and arrests. Mike Tyson credits Allah as his savior, claiming that his faith in the Muslim deity helped him crawl out of a dark hole.
When Shaquille O’Neal entered the NBA, he was before his time. He was a massive center who was athletic enough to dunk the ball over anyone in the game. He quickly asserted himself as one of the most physically dominant players in the game.
Shaq was never too outspoken about his religious views. In a few interviews, Shaq mentioned that his mother was Catholic and his step-father was Muslim. It turns out, Shaq took to the beliefs of the Islamic faith as he is on record saying that he has completed the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is everything you could ever want in an NBA center, and player for that matter. He is one of the greatest of all time. He even has a signature move, “The Dream Shake”, that other players have tried to perfect over the years. When Hakeem first entered the NBA, he converted to Islam. He practices a very strict faith and was even known to fast during Ramadan despite the start of the NBA season.
Maybe it has something to do with being an NBA big man great, but Kareem is another center that makes the list. Kareem dominated through all levels of his basketball life. He too invented a move that seemed unguardable. The “skyhook” liked “the dream shake” is a move that NBA players still attempt to perfect to this day. Kareem’s born name was Lew Alcindor, but he changed his name when he converted to Islam in 1971.
You are probably most familiar with the name above, Muhammed Ali. The ring wasn’t big enough for Muhammed’s boisterous personality. Muhammed’s strong Islamic faith helped shape the American Civil Rights movement.