By now, you must have heard of Maria Sharapova legally changing her name to Maria Sugarpova, to promote her brand with the same name. The name change is part of a carefully constructed marketing strategy to grab more eyeballs for her brand of candies called Sugarpova.
But as bizarre as it may sound, this isn’t the first instance of an athlete legally changing names. History is littered with instances of sportstars changing names; some for business and marketing reasons, some for religious reasons and some because they simply could.
10) Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor/Kareem Abdul Jabbar
For basketball enthusiasts, Kareem Abdul Jabbar is someone who needs no introduction. He is the all-time leading NBA scorer with 38,387 points, a 6-time NBA MVP and was part of 6 NBA Championship winning teams. Arguably the greatest basketball player ever, Jabbar was born Ferdinand Lewis “Lew” Alcindor.
Lew Alcindor, as he was called then, boycotted the 1968 Olympics by refusing to join the US Men’s Basketball team for the Olympics. His reason for boycotting the Games was to protest the unequal treatment of African-Americans in the United States.
Following his Milwaukee Bucks‘ 1971 NBA Championship win, Alcindor converted to Islam and legally changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, which roughly translates to “the noble servant of God.”