Devout Muslim Sonny Bill Williams has revealed he was once asked to leave a mosque in Dubai because of his tattoos – as talk of a fight with arch-rival Paul Gallen begins to gain traction again .
The former footy star-turned-boxer, 37, turned his life around after converting to Islam in 2009.
Williams has found peace in religion, and credits it with not only allowing him to be the best athlete he can be, but also the best husband and father.
However, the cross-code star recently revealed that he was once asked to leave a mosque because of his tattoos – which are considered haram (forbidden) by many Muslims.
‘I remember the first time I went to a mosque in Dubai I was told to leave because of my tattoos,’ Williams wrote on Twitter.
Sonny Bill Williams, a devout Muslim, has revealed that he was once asked to leave a mosque in Dubai because of his tattoos.
The former footy star-turned-boxer changed his life after converting to Islam in 2009
‘Yes the brother is doing what he thinks is right but if he had just shown a little empathy and understanding (took me aside and explained if I could try to cover the tattoos) I would have left the mosque empowered and enlightened instead I left a little and none the wiser.
‘This experience always stays with me when I see new returns [people who have adopted Islam] people make mistakes and criticize them in public space.
‘Remember no one is perfect and if we are truly following the sunnah of our beautiful prophet our hearts and actions must always be full of empathy.’
The former All Black’s comments have attracted a wide variety of responses from the Muslim world, so Williams explained that he would discuss the issue further in a future video.
‘So many comments on tattoos and Islam,’ he wrote in a follow-up Tweet.
‘My next YouTube video I will be doing one on tattoos and Islam for my revert brothers. May Allah make it easy.’
Meanwhile, rumors of a Williams vs Gallen fight are finally starting to gain traction.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Gallen had an informal chat with executives at Stan, with Williams agreeing to the fight – and now the only issue is money.
The former Sharks star believes it should be a 50-50 split, and won’t accept that Williams should get a bigger share.
Talk of a Sonny Bill Williams-Paul Gallen fight is finally starting to gain traction
Reports claim that Gallen (pictured beating up Lucas Browne) had an informal chat with executives at Stan about the fight.
Williams announced earlier this year that he would not retire from boxing after a brutal loss to Mark Hunt, but he will not fight Gallen – calling him a ‘narcissist’ who he ‘cannot stand’.
“With that guy, I can’t really stand him, the narcissistic type of man,” explained Williams.
‘For me, those types of men are not in my circle. It’s not that I don’t respect what he did in the sport, but as a man, I wouldn’t say we’d be friends or let a man like that into my circle.
‘Am I willing to hide him and make money? Of course. But he’s retired, so good on him. He was good, he came out and said he got all this money and whatever it was, very good of him.’
Gallen, whose last fight was a victory over former Maroons star Justin Hodges, was shocked by Williams’ latest comments, saying the former All Black had no right to judge him as a person.
Furthermore, Gallen believes that if they ever step into the ring together, he is the bigger draw and should receive more of the earnings.
‘He says he’s the drawcard and it’s payday for everyone. There’s no way I’m fighting him unless I get the lion’s share. I’m the one coming out of retirement, I’m the one who’s had the bigger fights,’ Gallen told Wide World of Sports.
Gallen said he was surprised by SBW’s comments about him and believes he is the bigger drawcard should they ever fight.
I don’t know what to do with everything. As someone who feels that he is holy and kind, I was amazed by his comments.
‘I never judged him as a person. The worst thing I’ve said about him is that he’s afraid to fight me.’