Sonny Bill Williams is leaving rugby league for good in an attempt to become boxing world champion – and isn’t done sharing controversial opinions.
The former NRL star, who also has two Rugby World Cups under his belt, will remain a mentor for the Sydney Roosters but focus his efforts on winning the ultimate prize in the boxing ring.
Williams has already boxed in seven matches and remains undefeated, though says he wants to spend more time training in the ring without the other distractions.
‘I spoke to my manager, I said ‘bro I’m keen to get back into the ring, I’ve got a couple of years, I’m 35′,’ he said.
‘I spoke to the wife first and she had blank eyes but like usual, she supported me.’
Williams used the spotlight to call for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China over the nation’s abhorrent treatment of the Uighur Islamic minority group.
Sonny Bill Williams says he will be leaving the NRL for good to become a boxing world champion
The NRL star, who has two Rugby World Cups under his belt, will remain a mentor for the Sydney Roosters but focus his efforts on winning the ultimate prize in the boxing ring
Williams, who converted to Islam in 2008, made the call after a report from a US think tank claimed the Chinese Communist Party was committing genocide against its own Muslims.
The Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy report claims two million Uighurs are living in one of the 1,400 concentration camps set up across Xinjiang, in the north west of the country.
China called it a ‘re-education’ camp but the report claims detainees are subjected to torture, sexual abuse, and systemic sterilisation.
Children are also separated from their parents and placed into state run orphanages to sever their links to the Uighur culture, according to the report.
Williams has joined human rights groups and activists to call for a boycott of the Winter Games that were to be hosted in Beijing between February 4 and 20 in 2022.
‘Are we supposed to be happy about that? It’s human,’ he told Herald Sun.
‘There should be no question about it (a boycott), that’s the starting point.’
Williams compared the treatment of the Uighurs to the treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany during and before World War II.
Williams used his moment in the spotlight to call for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China over the nation’s treatment of the Uighur minority group
China has labelled it a ‘re-education’ though the report claims Uighurs are subjected to torture, sexual abuse and systemic sterilisation (pictured, detainees listening to speeches in a camp in Lop County, Xinjiag in 2017)
He said it also echoed the genocide of Bosnian Muslims and Croatians during the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995.
‘We see what’s happening, history has shown us what happened in Germany, history has shown us what happened in Bosnia,’ he said.
‘God has blessed me with an empathetic heart for the less fortunate and there’s not too many people at the moment that are going through the struggles that those people are going through, you know.’
Williams has played 123 first grade games over his NRL career, representing the Bulldogs and Roosters.
He helped both teams win premierships in 2004 and 2013.