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Bearded British Boxer Sets Role Model

Published: 09/09/2012 04:18:37 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Coming at the end of a series of successful Muslim boxers, British Muslim Shafiq “Chubzy” Asif is not new to boxing field.Yet, a beard and shaved moustache were the trademark that expressed Asif's Islamic faith cle (more)

CAIRO - Coming at the end of a series of successful Muslim boxers, British Muslim Shafiq “Chubzy” Asif is not new to boxing field.

Yet, a beard and shaved moustache were the trademark that expressed Asif's Islamic faith clearly.

“It makes people look at you in a way - ‘Who's this guy? He's got a beard, he's different,'” Asif admitted to Sunday Sun newspaper on September 9.

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“I'm not really different, I'm just a normal lad. I'm just faithful.”

The faith 20-year-old light-welterweight from Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, can be easily distinguished in the boxing ring.

“In Middlesbrough there's quite a few good fighters - the likes of Paul Truscott,” he said.

“But with my faith, as an amateur I boxed for Great Britain and people look up to you a bit.”

Britain is home to nearly 2 million Muslims.

A 2009 ICM/Guardian poll showed that 91 percent of British Muslims are "loyal" to Britain and 80 percent wanted to live in and accept Western society.

Another report submitted by think tank Demos last November found that 83% of Muslims were proud of being British.

Muslims are no strangers to boxing.

Talented Britain's Muslim boxer Amir Khan is one of Britain's leading lights, following in the flamboyant footsteps of Naseem Hamed.

Khan became the WBA World light-welterweight champion on 18 July 2009, becoming Britain's third-youngest world champion after Naseem Hamed and Herbie Hide.

Bernard Hopkins and Lennox Lewis' conqueror Hasim Rahman both followed Islam.

The greatest of them all, Muhammad Ali, was a very vocal Muslim and Mike Tyson and Chris Eubank converted in the 1990s when their careers were over or petering out.

Role Model

Expressing his faith proudly, Asif sets a role model for British Muslims aspiring for success in their lives.

“My faith's the most important thing in my life and because of that I'm a big role model as well,” he told the Sun.

“When people see the beard, or see me praying, they see something in me.

“I'm normal, I pray. You have to... you have to.”

For Asif, Islam has never contradicted with his sporting career, despite facing challenges during the fasting of Ramadan this month.

“During Ramadan I was only training once and that was in the night,” says Rafiq, whose last fight was in Sunderland on July 15.

“It's been tough but I've trained now for three weeks three times a day.

“You have to bear that in mind. I wouldn't train in Ramadan because I'm fasting and I wouldn't feel right doing that.”

Growing a beard and shaved moustache, Asif will get a bit of extra attention when he takes on Johnny Greaves at Newcastle Academy this afternoon.

“I can't wait because the atmosphere in the previous fights has been fantastic and I'm sure it will be today because there will be quite a few people coming down,” says Asif.

“I just can't wait.

“It's been a long time since the North East has properly been involved in pro boxing together. Now we're just gelling together and getting shows every couple of months. I've had three fights up to now and the crowds are getting bigger and bigger.

“I'm just taking it step by step. I'm only 20 years-old. I just let my manager (Mick Marsden) and my coach (Imran Naeem) deal with that.

“They line up fights and I just take them. My last fight I had Sid Razak, who was very tough.

“Going in with more experienced fighters makes me more experienced. It'll make me a better fighter.

“Today I'm fighting Johnny Greaves, who's had 89 fights, so he's very experienced.

“I'll just be trying to keep to my boxing skills and not get in a fight.”

Reproduced with permission from