Sonny Bill Williams (born Sonny William Williams on August 3, 1985 in Auckland, New Zealand) is the NZPBA Heavyweight Champion and WBA International Champion, a former Rugby Union player, and current Rugby League player for the Sydney Roosters.
Williams converted to Islam in 2008. In 2011, he became the first Muslim to play for the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks.
Williams debuted his professional Rugby League career with the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2004, he was 18 at the time and the youngest ever to be signed with the Bulldogs club. Williams capped off a successful debut season by being given the International Newcomer of the Year Award, and was named in the 2004 World XIII Magazine.
In the same year, Williams was selected by New Zealand to debut on April 23, 2004, for the New Zealand Kiwis squad, as their youngest-ever test player in the 2004 ANZAC Test against Australia.
In 2008 he controversially left the Bulldogs mid-season (in July) to play Rugby Union with French club Toulon, where they finished as runners-up in the 2009-10 European Challenge Cup. Williams contract with Toulon ended in June 2010, but it was reported that Toulon offered a 3 year contract to re-sign Williams worth $6 million (reportedly the largest offer in Rugby Union). Williams declined the offer and signed for much less to play in the NZRU in a bid to play for the All Blacks.
In 2010 Williams signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union in an ultimately successful bid to play for the All Blacks at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which eventually led to an All Blacks’ win in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Williams is only one of two players, to represent New Zealand in Rugby Union after first playing for the country in Rugby League.
Williams played for Canterbury in the 2010 ITM Cup before being selected for the All Blacks’ end of year tour in 2010. Williams made his debut donned the All Blacks jersey on November 06, 2010, against England at Twickenham. On November 13, 2010, in his second game for the All Blacks, Williams was awarded the man of the match for his performance against Scotland.
Williams also played Super14 Rugby for the Crusaders in the 2011 season and the Chiefs in the 2012 season.
Since 2009 he has boxed four times winning all four of his heavyweight bouts. Williams will be fighting for the vacant New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) Heavyweight Title, which is set for February 08, 2012.
Williams fought his new opponent Clarence Tillman (original opponent Richard Tutaki pulled out from the fight, which adds to Williams win record) in Hamilton for the NZPBA Heavyweight Title on February 08, 2012, and without a punch ever landing on Williams from Tillman, Williams ‘Battle for the Belt’ started with an explosive left hook, leaving his opponent punching aimlessly at Williams who was not close enough to connect with. Williams used this opportunity to land 2 straights and another hook before the referee intervened, and in the first round with a Technical Knock-out (TKO), Williams was the new NZPBA Heavyweight Champion.
On February 8, 2013, Williams fought former Heavyweight boxer, Francois Botha, for the vacant WBA International title. Williams went on to win the bout by unanimous points decision with the judges scoring 98-94, 97-91 and 97-91 in his favor.
Highlights and Awards:
- Won the 2004 International Newcomer of the Year Award (whilst a player for the Australian NRL Canterbury Bulldogs)
- Named in Australia’s Rugby League: 2004 World Magazine’s World XIII
- Voted Nickelodeon Australian Kids’ Choice Awards “Fave Rising Star” in 2005
- 2010 ITM Cup Champions
- Williams was named to the 2011 RWC All Blacks squad in October 2010
- First Muslim to play for the All Blacks Rugby team
- Williams was awarded the Man of the Match Award playing his second game as an All Black against Scotland in November 2010
- 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup Champions
- NZPBA Heavyweight Champion
- WBA International Champion