Anthony Small. What does the name mean to you? If you’re a boxing fan, perhaps you remember Small as an elite light middleweight talent. But if you’ve been plugged into the news cycle for the past decade, you likely remember Small as “a boxer…who joined ISIS.”
Known as Sugar Ray Clay Jones Jr. during his fighting days (a combination of Sugar Ray Leonard, Cassius Clay, Roy Jones Jr.), Small amassed a record of 23-2 during his professional career. The London native once held both the British and Commonwealth light middleweight belts before his journey into activism in 2010.
In 2010, Small took part in a “Muslims against Crusaders” rally to protest the British military presence in Afghanistan. Then, in 2014, Small again courted controversy in a video supporting the beheadings of American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley.
Small then became more directly involved with jihadist causes. He was arrested in 2014 for trying to smuggle jihadists out of Britain. The fighters in question were attempting to get to Syria to wage war for the Islamic State.
Now known as Abdul Haqq, Small is an avowed follower of hate preacher Anjem Choudary. As such his passport was confiscated on the suspicion that he too would attempt to flee to Syria.
Small has officially taken off his gloves for good, announcing his intention to “take on the fight for Muslims.”
“I cannot be a Muslim and a boxer who makes money from a sport that promotes the evils of alcohol, gambling and free mixing of men and women,” he said, stating his objections to the sport.”
Small had another run-in with the law when he put his belt and boxing gloves up for auction on eBay. Authorities suspected the former Ray Clay Jones Jr. was trying to raise funds to join Isis. His case went to court, and Small was eventually deemed not guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts.
Ridiculously/brilliantly, producers of the 2015 T.V. show Muslims Like Us included Small in the Big Brother-style reality show’s cast. That’s like including the Unabomber in a shot about outdoorsmen.
From The Telegraph: “In Muslims Like Us, he reprimands female housemates for their choice of outfit, handing out pamphlets on ‘modest’ dress, and demands that the men and women are segregated.”
Further, he reportedly told producers that if his passport were returned, he’d make his way to Syria to join Isis. So while we may now know Small as the boxer who gave up the sport to join Isis, we may soon see him as a fighter on the front lines.
Save for Pat Tillman quitting the NFL to join the Army in the wake of September 11, there’s no real precedent for Small’s course of action. Interestingly, he stated that the anti-Muslim backlash after the events of 9/11 led to his conversion of the faith.