It is not uncommon for sportspeople to change names. Those with burdensome ones – such as the Indian batsman Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman, known to one and all as VVS – will act to ensure such irksome difficulties do not hinder their careers. Boxers, like actors, have long devised more billboard-friendly handles – Kid Gavilan, Fighting Harada, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard – but that was not why Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali of the Nation of Islam, making himself many enemies in the process. Mohammad Yousuf has also attracted some enmity by making the same religious switch as Ali, but has won many more friends in his own country. Until recently the only Christian in the Pakistan XI, and just the fourth since Partition, he announced his conversion to Islam last month, reinventing himself as Mohammad Yousuf. It was a move that appeared to risk nothing but excessive adulation from most Pakistanis. This, after all, is a land where Christians are confined to small, largely impoverished ghettos. When Yousuf made his Test debut, his parents did not possess a television set. Persecution of Christians by the state is regularly condemned by human rights groups.
|Publication status||Published - 18 Nov 2005|
- cricket, Pakistan, Yousuf, religion, prejudice, sport