Monday, June 6, 2016

Mustafa Hamsho, Great Muslim Athlete

Donald Trump reportedly said in the recent past that there were no great Muslim athletes in the world. I could make a list, if I were ambitious, but instead I'll just draw your attention to one of my favorite athletes of all time, Mustafa Hamsho, who happens to be Muslim.

Mr. Trump has more recently said nice things about Muhammad Ali, perhaps America's most prominent Muslim. But I'm certain that to Mr. Trump, Ali will always be Cassius Clay. Same with Kareem Abdul Jabbar, he'll always be Lew Alcindor to lots of people. Lots of people, including Trump and I, were thrilled by those guys in the Clay/Alcindor days, and change is hard for some of them.

Mustafa Hamsho was a hugely entertaining fighter, and he had a great career. He'd have been the champion were it not for Marvin Haggler fighting at the same weight. (As Jean-Paul Sartre said: in football everything is complicated by the presence of the other team.)

Outside the ring, Hamsho was a nice guy, very friendly and respectful. Inside the ring, he was a terror. You could say that he was a dirty fighter, or at least that he flirted with tactics that are not entirely legal. He seemed like he couldn't help himself! He'd try to cut you with the laces of his gloves, hit you with forearms and elbows, and boy, you really had to watch out for his head. He used the ropes better than anyone that I ever saw. Sometimes he'd throw the opponent into the ropes and hit him as he bounced off; other times he'd throw his back against the ropes and use the bounce to add power to a punch. He was a caution, he was. I don't remember him being disqualified, though. Such things are part of boxing, and are accepted, within limits.

One thing you'd have to admit is that Mustafa Hamsho was a great Muslim athlete. There are tons of others. The website Muslim Matters includes a list of the top ten Muslim boxers. That would be a drop in the bucket, but okay as a starting point for skeptics.

Oh no, I just got into the Fact-Checking-Trump game! But look for the good. It's steady work.

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