Sonny Bill Williams has reflected on the achievements of his idol, boxer Muhammad Ali ahead of his quest for Olympic gold.
Williams already has a Rugby World Cup, Super Rugby and NRL title to his name along with a national heavyweight boxing championship but he believes winning Olympic gold would eclipse everything.
“To be able to say you’re an Olympian and get a medal, that’d just be another level,” the New Zealand Sevens star told ESPN.
“It would be unbelievable. I get butterflies just thinking about it. God willing it all works out.”
Williams, a devout Muslim, added that former boxing legend Ali is an idol of his and draw much inspiration.
“From an athlete’s point of view, for me, there was no one bigger than Ali,” added the rugby league convert.
“He’s my man. He won a gold medal, he was an Olympian and it would be awesome to say I am an Olympian as well.
“His faith [was inspiring] and I guess, though he didn’t always say the right things, he always backed it up. I appreciate that from an athlete. I can only imagine the scrutiny and amount of people that would want to see him fail. But he kept on trucking on.
“There was that fight against George Foreman where no one expected him to win, the odds were stacked against him but somehow he did. It showed the character of him, the man he was.
“It wasn’t just about his mouth, he had something deep inside him that allowed him to go to those dark places and come out on top.”