Glasgow welcomes Blind wrestler
Glasgow University Muslim Student’s Association (GUMSA) and Caledonian University Muslim Students’ Association (CUMSA) invited the Blind wrestler Abu Hafsa Jerome Claire to deliver a lecture about his conversion to Islam and life as a Blind athlete on 8th March 2012. The programme began with a talk by Mediehah Bashir, an English teacher working with Deafblind adults and children. She talked about the importance of recalling God’s blessings and steadfastness in the face of adversity. In addition to quoting from the Quran and Prophetic tradition, she read from Imran Sabir’s poem, A Disabled Society. She expressed her belief that it is a compulsion upon all of us to help others. Her talk led perfectly into the main lecture.
Abu Hafsa was born to an Irish family that had migrated to Canada. He was christened Jerome Claire. He was brought up by his mother and grandmother who never said he was Blind but preferred to use the phrase ‘born without sight.’ They were both strict and knew that he needed to be tough to survive. He was told that because of his disability, he would have to work harder than others. When he was nine years old, he went to a local wrestling club but was sent away because he was ‘too skinny’. A year later he tried again. This time his own mother had spoken to the trainer to arrange for a particular boy to be ‘beat him up’ during the trial. This happened but it didn’t deter the young Jerome. He continued to train losing every fight for almost two years until at the age of 12, he won his first contest. That was the beginning of what was to become a successful professional career.
In 1996, he had twenty nine wins without any defeats. By this time, he had developed an interest in Islam. After reading the autobiography of Malcolm X, he ‘fell in love with the concept of Islam’. That year, he moved to Toronto for a while where he adopted Islam.
He has now retired from professional wrestling and dedicates his time to telling his story and spreading the word of Islam. He has travelled to the Middle East, Africa and many parts of Europe and America. Glasgow University were very happy to host him and wish him well for the future.