American Muslim Athletes Need Ambassador of Faith
Here at Athlebrities, we love to share with our readers all the contributions athletes and sports bring to society. We understand and agree that the main purpose of today is to remember and pay tribute to the innocent victims in the towers, the flight crews and passengers on all four planes that day, the workers at the Pentagon, every single First Responder on scene and our Soldiers like Arizona’s Pat Tillman, who chose to do something after the fact. One thing that has changed post 9/11 that rarely gets addressed is how reluctant Muslim-American athletes are to act as the bridge between Muslims and non – Muslims.
American-Muslim athletes are more prevalent in U.S. sports than ever. Very few of them are willing to work as a mediator between the Muslim and non-Muslim world. These athletes have the ability to reach and change people in a way that truly is an art. It’s a form of self- expression through competition and perseverance to do the best, and be the best, that can unite people from all cuts of the cloth. When athletes break down these walls, it allows knowledge to reach a segment of people who for unknown reasons choose to be deeply alienated from mainstream politics. NFL’s Hamza Abdullah, a safety for the Cleveland Browns, says his teammates always ask him about being Muslim but no schools, churches, or other institutions have invited him to speak.
Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon were ambassadors of the faith during their time. The next generation of ambassadors to call for a better understanding between the Islamic and Western World are rarely heard from. In the past, politics and athletes have never been a good mix. Athletes today, who try to bridge this gap, end up spending most of their time in interviews being persecuted or desperately back peddling to avoid being divisive. In times of war, the government tends to grow in power and prestige as freedoms shrink. The most endangered rights end up being those of ethnic and religious minorities who are targeted, not due to individual suspicion, but due to stereotypes.
Since not all Muslims are terrorist, Athlebrities wanted to highlight a few Muslim-American’s who also happen to be athletes. Hamza Abdul’s younger brother Husain Abdullah, plays safety on the Minnesota Viking’s, also where Ahmad Rashād played. Retired Rasheed Wallace, and Shaquile O’Neal were both part of the NBA legacy known as the Boston Celtics. Comedy Central and staying up late have been made better by Dave Chapelle. Mos Def, Nas, Lupe Fiasco and Snoop Dogg, all of who played key roles in the rap and hip-hop industry. David Bowie’s stunning wife Iman, turned the modeling world upside down when she entered the scene in the 70’s. CNN anchor, Fareed Zakaria, is also head of Newsweek International and a contributing writer for The Wall Street Journal, Time and the New York Times. He was also named one of the 100 leading public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy and Prospect Magazines.
Without a doubt, this day is dedicated to every single person who lost their life on September 11, 2001 and to their families who have managed to live in this world and keep their faith.
“Faith is trust, confidence and reliance in what we have reason to believe is true” – J.P. Moreland
As always, thanks for reading~
Muhammad Ali Honored In the UK
The greatest boxer of all time is making the rounds in the UK to raise money for various charities including his Muhammad Ali Center in Kentucky. Accompanied by Greg Roberts, the head of his center, and his amazing wife Yolanda, Muhammad Ali stopped by a new gym owned by a group of amateur and professional boxers, including British boxer Ricky Hatton. “When they told me Ali wanted to come and visit the gym my jaw nearly hit the floor,” said Hatton. “He always did what he did for the people, and this fund-raising trip to the UK is no different. I’ve met the greatest sportsman of all time. It is a day all of us here in the gym, and in Hyde, will never forget.”
Hatton presented Ali with a cake, in the shape of a glove, with a figurine of Ali on top, with the letters GOAT embossed on it… “Greatest Of All Time,” said Hatton after Ali had left. “I have watched videos of The Greatest, and now The Greatest has come to my gym to visit us. It made me incredibly proud, and it brought a tear to my eye when he arrived. It was very emotional.” Emotional indeed. The ‘Greatest of All Time’ lives by six core values: Respect, Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving and Spirituality…so its no surprise that the legend himself will appear at three dinners held in his honor at British sports stadiums during his visit to the UK.
Each year, here in the States, Ali is the guest of honor at Celebrity Fight Night…it’s recognized as one of the most elite charity events in this country…and after attending a few years ago, I can see why…the line-up of celebrity and athlete supporters that Ali attracts makes the Academy Awards look like a tea-party…throughout Celebrity Fight Night’s fourteen year history they’ve raised over $52 million for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute (among others). Takes a mighty-mighty-fine man to improve this world and I’d say Ali has contributed more than his share of Love to better the lives of others. Keep on going strong Champ~
As always, thanks for reading. Delinda@athlebrities.com
Michael Phelps Among Honorees at Celebrity Fight Night
This years Celebrity Fight Night once again knocked out the competition with another one of their amazing fundraisers for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center. Billed as one of the nations largest fundraising efforts, Celebrity Fight Night has raised more than $52 million for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson’s Center in Phoenix and other charities.
Last year, I was fortunate enough to attend. This year, I watched on the sidelines as guests enjoyed a delicious evening filled with the likes of Michael Phelps, Kurt Warner, Jon Bon Jovi, Reba McEntire, Bo Derek, Jordin Sparks, Forest Whitaker and many others.
Of course, the legend himself, Muhammad Ali was the guest of honor at Celebrity Fight Night XV, held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday.
The annual event has raised $52 million for various charities throughout its 15-year run, with the primary beneficiary being the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. This year’s event was hosted by the queen of sweet Reba McEntire and, featured musical performances by Jon Bon Jovi, Charise and Ray Firestone.
And as they do every year, CFN honors hotties in the sports, entertainment and business communities who ‘best represent the qualities associated with the Champ and his fight to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease,’ This year’s honorees…actor Forest Whitaker, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Olympic swimming god Michael Phelps.
As always, thanks for reading. Delinda@athlebrities.com
Celebrity Fight Night Recap: Chuck Liddell Says He’d Fight Kimbo, Costner Rocks Out with His Band, B.J. Flores Belts Dionne Warwick, Mary Lou Retton Sad About Olympic Protests, Grant Hill Cool with Lebron James Cover, Shawne Merriman, Ray Lewis, Tony Hawk.
CELEBRITY FIGHT NIGHT
D&D hit up the 14th annual Celebrity Fight Night in Scottsdale Arizona on Saturday night, where a ton of A-listers joined Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in the fight against Parkinson’s disease for this incredible event that’s raised more than $45 million bucks since its inception.
The love showered on Muhammad Ali and his foundation went beyond my expectations. The celebrities who showed up to support the event weren’t just there to walk the red carpet, they were there to make a difference, and this included all guests in attendance. As with most events, the red carpet experience was a blast. First impressions of those who were there…Jordin Sparks, who also performed at the event was absolutely beautiful, sincere, and graceful; LaDainian Tomlinson, who received the Ali Sports Achievement Award was grateful, emotional, and inspiring.
Grant Hill, who is nothing short of angelic, had good reason to be at the event. “Muhammad Ali has given so much to the world, and my wife is also performing tonight so I guess I have two reasons for being here.” When asked about the controversy surrounding the recent LeBron James Vogue cover, Hill wasn’t too concerned. “I don’t have a problem with it” he said, “I saw the (WW1 propaganda) poster, and you know, I wouldn’t have done it, but Lebron’s young and you know, I’m okay with it, but I wouldn’t have done it.”
When Arsenal (soccer) fan Kevin Costner walked by, I couldn’t resist asking him about Arsenals loss that morning. “Ah, picking on my guys over there!” he said with a smile. I also had to dig a bit deeper and ask how he felt about American ownership of European soccer clubs: “I haven’t followed it to that detail” he replied, “I’ve been really into politics, but sports are so good it’s stands alone, those people are so passionate about what goes on, and you’ll never get two Englishmen to agree on anything when it comes to sports.” Pressing Costner further, I asked if he had any interest in ownership. “No, I don’t know enough about the game, I’ve just had some extraordinary experiences with it.” Most celebs could’ve BSed their way around my questions, so I applaud him for being so candid. KC remained sweet, masculine, sexy and when he received his Muhammad Ali Achievement Award, his acceptance speech had most, if not all guests on the verge of tears. Gotta make mention of Costners after party as well. Costner performed with his band Modern West after the main event. Being skeptical of celebrities who try to be rock stars, I must admit he rocked. He gave off an air of comfort from the stage, exuding a love for music you don’t normally see from someone of his caliber. I’ve posted plenty of photos of Costners performance on Shutterfly-the link is at the end of this post.
Another athlebrity who floored me was Tony Hawk. Dude has got to be one of the brightest and most compassionate people I’ve ever met. It’s hard to imagine the skateboarding legend never saw himself becoming a global franchise. “Not at all,’ he said when asked, “when I was growing up skating was a pretty small world, so to become one of the best or to aspire to a career didn’t mean a lot, it just meant you got free gear, so to be doing this for a living and have all the opportunities, I love it, I’m just thankful I still get to skate for a living, that really what its all about to me.” Hawk was with his wife, who’s expecting their 4th child in June, and had some great advice all kids. “Believe in yourself. Persevere, never give up, if you want to do something, just try it, don’t give up.”
Next up Shawne Merriman walked in with Ray Lewis…Merriman was hot and humble. Lewis, had a very commanding presence…Merriman was obviously more than excited to support the charity event, “I can’t believe we can get everybody out here in one building for a great event, Im totally amazed at the number of great people, this is my second year and I’ll basically mark this weekend off on my calendar every year to come and support it.”
Faith Hill and Reba McEntire were both stunning and very down to earth. Our first night there was met with a “Hi, I’m Reba” as we rode the elevator with her-can’t stress enough how adorable and sweet she is. Mary Lou Retton was as spunky as ever and I had to ask the former Olympic gymnast how she felt about the political uproar surrounding the upcoming games. “You know, it’s really sad, because the Olympics are supposed to be a time when the best athletes in the world come together in competition. Politics aren’t anything new, it happened back in the 80’s, it happened before that and I believe we’re going to get it all resolved.” And what about athletes who use the games as a platform to speak out? “I think you should speak how you feel and feel how you speak, and if you’ve got a strong opinion about something, its America, thank God we are born in America and we can voice that. I’ve got no problem with that. I’m a true blue born all American, so I hope we get it all resolved.”
One of the highlights for me was meeting Chuck Liddell. I may not mention the UFC much on my blog, but I’ve had one eye on Liddell and the other on Kimbo Slice for a long, long time. So, for those of you in the loop, I asked Liddell what he felt about Kimbo. “I don’t have no problem with Kimbo,” he said with a cup of Starbucks in one hand, “I’d fight him, I’d have no problem, I’d fight him and win.”
Speaking of hotties in Arizona who use their fists, Team Flores, which included Jay of Juggler Entertainment and MIMS of DET to LA rocked the hell out of the red carpet. The hottest undefeated USBA cruiserweight sensation B.J. Flores (with team Flores) strolled the red carpet with the confidence you’d expect from a boxer while almost giving us a heart attack each time he licked his lips. Not only is he sexy as hell, but his focus and hunger compel you to wanna see him fight right then and there.
Aside from being a force in the ring, Flores is also making an impact outside the sport. Recently he appeared as the in-studio guest for ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights. Hot stuff aka ‘Peligroso’ (dangerous in Spanish) is currently 21-0 with 13 knockouts as a professional and ranked #2 by the IBF, #7 by the WBO, and #11 by the WBA. Gotta give extra love to Flores for his marketing and production team Juggler Entertainment…It’s not often you see a boxer swanked by such classy professionals. Jay from Juggler promised to make noise from Arizona to Timbuktu, and he’s already made good by interviewing the legendary Dionne Warwick with B.J. on the red carpet. Flores walked the red carpet directly after Warwick, which led to one of my favorite photos of all time- Dionne posing with Flores’ title belt. Priceless. But maybe not as priceless as when I got that belt around my waist…
Thanks to Look to the Stars for sending D&D to this stellar event. I’ll have a complete write up on their site later this week, including a full list of celebrity attendees, many more quotes, auction items, and final bids. For photos from the event, you can view ‘em on Shutterfly.