DUBAI – Boxing Olympian and world champion Anthony Joshua received a wave of abusive comments after sharing a photo for him praying in a Dubai mosque with his Muslim friends.
“Besides luck, hard work and talent – prayer is a solid foundation,” Joshua wrote in the caption.
“It was nice to join my brother as he led through afternoon prayer.”
The British fighter tweeted a picture of him and two other men kneeling behind two copies of the Qur’an inside a lavish looking Mosque in some rare downtime from training for his superfight with Wladimir Klitschko on April 29 at Wembley.
The IBF heavyweight title-holder took time out of his training to visit the mosque in Dubai.
Though Joshua is not a Muslim, the 27-year-old Olympic and world champ was greeted with a torrent of criticism by so-called fans after sharing it online.
The picture triggered vitriolic comments from people who claimed to be fans of the London superstar.
A man identifying as Terry Johnson called on the Prime Minister Theresa May to deport Joshua for his faith in a twisted Tweet, saying: ‘Get out of my country.’
Mark Warren tweeted his disgust at the notion Joshua was a Muslim, declaring he was no longer a supporter or a fan.
Amid the wave of hateful comments, some people stood with Anthony Joshua MBE, who won gold at the 2012 Olympics and the IBF heavyweight titleholder.
“To all the people hating. Muhammad Ali was a Muslim and the greatest of all time, do you guys hate him as well?” Naz Rashid wrote.
Joshua does not conform to one religion, but has an interest in many of them
In an interview last year ahead of his bought with Dominic Breazeale, Joshua said: “Prayer is a method practiced from ancient days, so it’s very important for us to maintain a spiritual connection, something that people, gladiators would do years ago, so we’re just maintaining that routine.”
“I’m not going to dig anyone for their beliefs or anything like that, but I definitely feel religion is a big part of life, whether you believe in it or not, in everyone’s day-to-day life religion’s a big part.
“Prayer and so on, and beliefs, is definitely important to me.”