Muslim meals a must for Khan

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:00 PM ET

As most football fans are aware, players in training camps are provided meals at buffets offered at their hotel HQ.

And most Winnipeg Blue Bomber hopefuls dig in like pigs at the trough.

But there is one noteable exception this year.

"Being Muslim, I have certain dietary restrictions," non-import offensive lineman Ibrahim (Obby) Khan was saying the other day.

"I can't eat any sort of pig products so bacon, ham, sausage -- which we have every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner -- I can't have that. As far as other meats go, chicken and beef which is mainly on the menu, I can eat that but the meat has to go through a proper process, which Jewish people refer to as kosher. Muslims call it halal.

NOT PROPERLY PREPARED

"I can eat beef and chicken. However, the meat is not properly prepared here. You have to go through a little prayer to thank the Lord for the food before you kill the animal and the slaughter has to be done in a certain way. So, the meat here, unfortunately, is not done that way so, I can't eat the chicken and beef at the (hotel) restaurant.

"Now, there are restaurants and butchers out there (in Winnipeg) who sell meat like that so I hope to get some steak that I can eat at a Muslim restaurant."

So, how then, does a 6-foot-3, 304-pound human keep his strength up during the rigours of two-a-day training camp? Surely, he cannot subsist on a daily diet of fruit and salad.

Khan laughed.

"The coaches here have been great and the hotel staff has been great," said the former Ottawa Renegade. "The chef whips me up a different dish every day -- a certain seafood because I can have seafood every day. It doesn't have to go through any process and the guys are actually really jealous because I get halibut, cod, swordfish, pickerel, salmon, tuna. I get everything with all the fixings.

"It's working out well for me. I think some of the guys are thinking of switching religions just for the sake of diet. Same thing in Ottawa, a bunch of guys started say, 'Coach, I can't eat that, either, but Coach P (Joe Paopao) didn't bite on it."

Drinking alcohol is also strictly forbidden, so Khan is often invited to tag along on teammates' outings.

"I still go out and have a good time with the guys, I just don't drink," said Khan, 25. "I usually end up being the DD (designated driver) anyway so the guys love me. Even if they don't like me, they'll invite me out so, I can drive."

Because he is not Sikh, Khan does not wear a turban.

"I keep the beard for religious significance but it's not mandatory," Khan said. "And I think I look better in a beard."

Khan has been moved to centre and if he can handle the position in pre-season game action, head coach Doug Berry indicated the job will likely be his.

"It's been two years since I played centre but I think I'm doing all right out there and we'll leave that decision up to the coaches," said Khan, who has played all five O-line spots.


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