SYDNEY – New Zealand rugby Muslim star, Sonny Bill Williams, said he was blessed to meet UFC superstar and fellow Muslim Khabib Nurmagomedov at an event in Sydney, Australia over the weekend, News Hub reported on January 21.
“Alhamdulillah. Blessed to meet and share the stage with the brother Khabib Nurmagomedov, may the most high continue to bless your journey,” Williams said.
The Dagestani Muslim world champion, Nurmagomedov, was in Australia on a promotional tour, telling fans how he became one of the biggest names in sport during a live Q&A session at Olympic Park.
The Kiwi star of the ‘All Blacks’ team posted photos of himself with Nurmagomedov on Twitter and Instagram, one of them where he was on stage with the reigning UFC lightweight champion.
The 33-year-old Williams is himself a big fan of Nurmagomedov, having posted several tweets about the world champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed martial arts contest.
Nurmagomedov’s latest match was when he defeated the Irish sports fighter Conor McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018.
On his behalf, Williams is currently going through pre-season preparations with The Blues professional rugby union team in Auckland, New Zealand before the coming 2019 Super Rugby season.
Williams who converted to Islam in 2009 to become the first Muslim to play for the All Blacks is also a heavyweight boxer and a former rugby league footballer.
He’s only the second person to represent New Zealand in rugby union after first playing for the country in rugby league and is one of only 20 players to have won two rugby union World Cups.
In rugby league, he has won 12 caps for New Zealand and won the RLIF Awards for Rookie of the Year in 2004 and International Player of the Year in 2013.
He first moved to rugby union in 2010 and has since won 47 caps for New Zealand, and was part of the teams that won the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups. He has also played rugby sevens for New Zealand, competing in the 2015–16 World Rugby Sevens Series and the 2016 Olympics.
Williams has boxed professionally seven times, winning all of his heavyweight bouts. He was formerly the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) Heavyweight Champion and World Boxing Association (WBA) International Heavyweight Champion.
In 2014, Williams became the first player in rugby league history to hold the title ‘global ambassador of Adidas’. On the same year, he was ranked 41st in SportsPro magazine’s 50 most marketable athletes.
Williams served then in 2015 as an ambassador for UNICEF, visiting Lebanon in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of Syrian refugee children.