Blake Ferguson appears to be taking a road to rehabilitation and redemption via Islam.
The former Canberra star, who is attempting to secure an NRL contract after being sacked by the Raiders for a string of alcohol-related incidents, has been photographed praying with Muslim boxer Anthony Mundine, leading to speculation he has converted to Islam.
Having apparently taken his Shahadah (declaration of faith) on Friday in Zetland – which would mean swearing off alcohol – Ferguson would thus have taken a step towards convincing NRL officials that he should be registered again. Ferguson, who was sacked by Canberra before the end of the NRL season, is being mentored by Mundine, his second cousin, and is due to fight on the undercard for Mundine’s rescheduled fight against Shane Mosley.
The 23-year-old NSW Origin representative is yet to find an NRL club and is unlikely to have a contract registered by the NRL for the start of next season.
It is understood NRL officials were aware of his intentions to convert to Islam.
Another prominent Islamic sportsperson, boxer Billy Dib, congratulated Ferguson on social media on Saturday, writing on Twitter: “Proud of you my brother, so happy to see you taking the right steps to resurrect your footy career.” Ferguson replied: “Thanks brother.. very hapoy with where im heading.. hooe your well.”
Dib then tweeted “all is well my bro, getting ready for the big fight inshallah.” to which Ferguson responded with “yeah my brother goodluck inshallah”.
Ferguson was shown the door by Canberra after failing to show up for training and not responding to calls from the club. He built up a long list of off-field misdemeanours.
His axing followed a charge of indecent assault made after a night out with former teammate Josh Dugan in June. That matter is still before the courts. Many of Ferguson’s misdemeanours have been alcohol-related, which makes his religious conversion such a significant step. The Roosters’ Kiwi superstar Sonny Bill Williams, another close friend of Mundine’s, has said his Muslim faith has made him a better footballer. Ferguson will be hoping for a similar result. Attempts to contact Ferguson were unsuccessful.
Ferguson worked as a labourer after leaving Canberra but still hopes to return to the NRL. He was supposed to have had his first professional fight on the undercard for Mundine’s aborted fight against Mosley on October 23. He will enter the ring as one of the curtain-raisers for the fight night at All Phones Arena on November 27.
The Sunday Telegraph: