A former British boxing champion is being charged with trying to join the Islamic State, the BBC reports. Anthony Small, a former light middleweight, reportedly tried to forge papers and enter Syria with two other men.
Late last year, Small, 34, sold his memorabilia—including his boxing gloves and boots—to be able to make enough money for his trip to Syria. This came almost a decade after he had converted to Islam in 2004, changing his name to Abdul Haqq.
In 2007, he won one of only two points for the UK against the U.S. in a six-bout competition—The Contender Challenge. He also won the British and Commonwealth light middleweight titles in Manchester in July 2009.
But by 2010, he was making news for his activities outside the ring. In March of that year, Small marched with 50 other demonstrators who called themselves "Muslims Against Crusades" to protest against the British offering their help in the war in Afghanistan. The following year, he criticized famous British boxer Amir Khan for not being a faithful follower of Islam.
In a YouTube video, Small said he quit boxing because his profession no longer aligned with his Islamic faith. He felt that since Muslims are prohibited from entering pubs where alcohol is served, or casinos where men and women gamble, he as a devout Muslim could no longer pursue success inside a boxing arena "where all these evils take place collectively."
When ISIS beheaded American journalist James Foley, Small uploaded another YouTube video supporting the barbaric act. He said that Foley's beheading wasn't entirely "unprovoked" and should be understood in an objective way as an act of retaliation—a payback for the United States for their attack on the Islamic State.
Small is also being charged with spreading hateful material online—he reportedly published a paper titled "Attacks By Muslims In Perspective," and gave another YouTube speech called "Why The Islamic State Is Rejected."
Around 3,000 Europeans are estimated to be fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria at the moment. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in March that he expected that number to rise to almost 10,000 by the end of the year.