Gervonta Davis, a world-renowned boxer from Baltimore, converted to Islam on Sunday in a ceremony at a Maryland mosque, Imam Hassan Abdi said.

In the ceremony at Masjid Al-Hidaayah in Woodlawn, Davis performed the shahada — the Islamic testimony of faith — and embraced a Muslim name: Abdul Wahid, which means “the servant of the one.” Davis hasn’t legally changed his name, however.

“The humility I get from him — and I was surprised meeting him, because I knew who he was but I wasn’t familiar to what extent — he was a very down-to-earth person,” Abdi said in an interview with The Baltimore Banner. “The conversation was about being the best version of what we can be as human beings.”

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Abdi first met Davis and his team, including his coach, for breakfast after they were introduced by Sabur Carter, the mosque’s administrator. Abdi, who is based in Philadelphia, has preached all over the country and has lectured in Maryland mosques for about 20 years.

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Abdi and Davis spoke for an hour about faith and Davis felt he wanted to take the next steps in adopting Islam, Abdi said. That led to the ceremony with Abdi, in which Davis testified to his belief in Allah and Muhammad as the messenger. On Wednesday, Davis visited Tawheed First Academy, a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Woodlawn, Carter said. Davis sat in on a Muslim studies class to observe and learn more about the religion’s history.

Through his trainer, Calvin Ford, Davis could not be reached for comment. The International Boxing Federation also did not return a request for comment on whether Davis had changed his name in its records.

The 29-year-old Davis is undefeated with 29 wins and has held the World Boxing Association lightweight title since 2019.

At a press conference with city officials last week, Davis announced he is helping to renovate homes in Sandtown-Winchester, the West Baltimore neighborhood he grew up in.

Davis said he feels investing in youth is paramount for improving Baltimore. Davis’ donation will help renovate vacant houses on North Woodyear Street, and GTD Development will acquire nine properties on the block to renovate them and create affordable housing.

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“At heart he’s a good person, and I think he wants more. I think he wants more for himself, which is good,” Abdi said. “Him investing in the area, buying a block and trying to improve it for the residents there, I think all of that may be also an influence to hear something different. Islam, and I was telling him, religion makes us the best version of who we are, to be better human beings. We believe in one God and we worship him alone, and that brings accountability and responsibility for ourselves, and also trying to help others. And I think it resonated with him.”

It’s not a religious obligation to choose a new name when becoming Muslim, although in one relevant example, legendary boxer Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Davis accepted the name Abdul Wahid in part because some in boxing call him “The One.” Now, he’s the “servant of the one,” Allah.

Carter said the boxing world will still know Davis by his birth name.

Davis pleaded guilty this year to four traffic offenses in connection with a hit-and-run that injured four people in 2020. He was initially sentenced to 90 days of home detention and three years’ probation but had his home detention revoked after the judge learned the boxer was not spending his house arrest at Ford’s home as the judge had approved. Davis spent more than six weeks in jail and was released in July.

Prior to sentencing, Davis had been living at his mansion in Parkland, Florida.

“We’re not perfect as human beings,” Abdi said. “We all go through challenges in life. It’s about having hope and not despairing. When we fall down — with him as a boxer, I told him, when you’re boxing, when a person goes down, you try your best to get back up. That’s like life. I think that you’re never going to be perfect overnight and we may never reach completion, but it’s about trying to be better. I see that he’s trying to be a better individual.”