Jonah Lomu, Jonny Wilkinson, and Jonah Lomu are two notable exceptions to the rule, rugby union has never been able to produce crossover stars with true global appeal. But Maro Itoje seems like he is trying to change that trend.
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Itoje, a 26-year-old forward for the Saracens and England, British & Irish Lions, is well-known on the field for his boundless energy and ability to pop up anywhere. Itoje is one of the most prominent figures in British sport.
Itoje is a force for change, hosts podcasts, fights for black rights and finds time to model for major fashion labels and promote African history.
Perhaps once in Britain, a black athlete had to just keep his head down and play the game. Itoje is one of those people.
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Itoje, Camden-born, is 6ft 5in tall. He has a reputation of turning anything he touches into success. This includes winning European Player of Year at age 21 and inspiring whole stadiums of Lions supporters to sing “ohhh Maro Itoje!” in New Zealand.
He’s turning many things into success, signing last year with Roc Nation – Jay-Z’s sports management agency. This agency used to manage Marcus Rashford, Manchester United footballer.
It is impossible to say that all England rugby players have always been passionate about fashion and style, but Itoje certainly is.
He was featured on Tatler’s cover in 2018 alongside Lady Amelia Windsor, a third cousin to the Duke of Cambridge & Duke of Sussex.
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The athlete activist
Itoje is clearly a person who wants to educate the British. He is clearly not a spectator in an age where there are many athletes activists like Coco Gauff, Lewis Hamilton and Colin Kaepernick.
The Londoner was made a patron of The Black Curriculum in 2015, a social enterprise that fills in the gaps in current UK education curriculum by teaching black British History throughout the year.
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Itoje is hinting at another love, politics. Campbell was included in the podcast series.
He said, “I come form a household that is not necessarily involved in politics, but they are very opinionated on certain issues,” Nick Robinson stated during Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking podcast. “My brother is very politically-minded, and my sister is also. We have constant discussions with our parents and ourselves.
Itoje was more than just a family dinner table conversation. After receiving a scholarship from Harrow, Itoje studied political science at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
One of the most politically engaged British sportspeople of today, he has spoken out against male patriarchy and criticised this year’s government-commissioned Sewell Report on race and ethnic disparity.
With the coronavirus pandemic affecting children’s education severely over the past two-years, Itoje organized a device donation drive in February to encourage people to donate their spare tablets to families in dire need.
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Itoje has been inspiring young pitch players for over a decade and his boundless energy continues to make waves in other fields.