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Izzah Combat Sports and Fitness in Cleveland Heights is a haven of acceptance

Posted at 12:19 PM, Apr 05, 2017

Religion and combat sports coincide with each other for the owner of Izzah Combat Sports and Fitness, Ali Sharif Ivey. 

"The word Izzah means honor, honor of family, honor of community, honor of your lineage," he told News 5. "What else can we represent other than that?"

The Cleveland native converted to Islam in the 1980's. But being Muslim has not always been easy for him. 

"When I was in the military...that's when people thought about it and realized I was a Muslim and when they realized that is when a lot of people changed their whole disposition towards me," Sharif Ivey said. 

Sharif Ivey says inside his gym is a haven of acceptance. 

"It is all about a sense of community and anybody that surrounds me they know and I make sure they know our goal is to improve society through the martial arts despite religion," he explained. 

While Sharif Ivey doesn't believe he can change people, through combat sports he does try to give them the tools to help themselves. 

"With confidence, faith and determination you can achieve any goal you want," he said.