Muslim American Becomes New Heavyweight Champion

Category: Nature & Science Topics: Sports And Recreation Views: 2960

US heavyweight new champion of the world Hasim Rahman celebrates his victory over British former champion Lennox Lewis, 22 April 2001 after their title fight at the Carnival city Arena in Brakpan, some 40 kilometres east of Johannesburg. 

JOHANNESBURG, April 23  - Hasim Rahman stunned the world of boxing when he upset former heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis in a dramatic world title fight at Johannesburg's Carnival City with a fifth-round knockout. 

For those who put money on Hasim Rahman at odds of 20-1 his shock world heavyweight title victory might prove to be the bet of the decade.

But while Rahman had said last week he was glad at the prospect of "making people rich" by winning the title at such massive odds, no-one in his camp had wagered on the 28-year-old's upset.

The boxer's manager Stan Hoffman said Rahman's camp had a strict no gambling policy.

"It's a policy I insist on - none of us are allowed to bet on one of our own fighters, or fights that they are involved in," he said.

But the no gambling policy may also have to do with Rahman's devotion to his Islamic beliefs.  And it is his faith, says the new heavyweight champion of the world, that helped him over come the odds and claim victory.

"I kept my prayers going and did all my training. And I came up with one punch," Rahman told reporters in Johannesburg. "One punch."

Rahman, a native of Randallstown, Maryland, says he learned how to fight on the streets.

"If somebody did something to my brother, I would avenge it immediately," he told the Baltimore Sun in an interview before the fight.

"I was body punching with a former boxer, Louis Butler, on the street, and he recommended I go to the gym," he told the Baltimore paper. "I stayed in the gym ever since."

After some training, Rahman succeeded as an amateur heavyweight. By 1994, he turned professional.

Rahman told the Sun he attributes his ability to recover from his losses to his Muslim beliefs, which he says keep him focused on what's important in life. On a recent morning at his Johannesburg hotel, Rahman woke up at 5 to pray - the first of five times each day that he kneels down with his team members, the paper reported.

John Cason, Rahman's father and a retired engineer and chaplain in the Maryland prison system, regularly leads the team prayers. 

"If he needs me, I'm here as a guide and reference for him," Cason told the Sun.

Rahman is married to Crystal Rahman, 27, and has three children: Hasim Jr., 9; Sharif, 4; and Amirah, 2.


AFP contributed to this report.


  Category: Nature & Science
  Topics: Sports And Recreation
Views: 2960

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