Boxing champion Anthony Small 'wanted to join IS'

Anthony Small boxing (left) Image copyright PA
Image caption Anthony Small (left) was a British and Commonwealth light-middleweight champion in 2009

Three men from London, including a former British boxing champion, planned to travel to Syria to fight with Islamic State, a court has heard.

Ex-boxer Anthony Small, 33, is accused of trying to go to Syria after spreading terrorist material online.

He was arrested after two other men - Michael Coe and Simon Keeler - were found with false documents in the back of a lorry at Dover last year.

All three, from east London, deny the charges they face.

'Enjoyed some success'

Opening their trial at the Old Bailey, prosecutor Richard Whittam QC said: "The prosecution's case is they intended to travel to Syria to join and support what is called Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, known as Isil or Isis."

The men deny engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts.

Mr Small is also accused of publishing an article online called Attacks By Muslims In Perspective, giving an address entitled "Why the Islamic State is rejected", and publishing a recording of a speech called "Another James Foley beheading".

He is charged with disseminating terrorist publications, two charges of supporting a proscribed organisation and a charge of conspiracy to possess false identity documents with improper intention.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Anthony Small denies engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts

Mr Whittam said Mr Small, who "enjoyed some success" as a British and Commonwealth light middleweight champion in 2009, had sold memorabilia shortly before his arrest.

In a fight screened on Sky Box Office, Mr Small won the British and Commonwealth titles against Matthew Hall at Manchester's MEN Arena in July 2009, entering the ring to the sound of Frank Sinatra's My Way.

He then defended the titles successfully in November that year against Thomas McDonagh in Wigan, but was beaten by Sam Webb in Dagenham, Essex, in March 2010.

The court heard the ex-boxer had not received false documents but they were in the process of being arranged by the same people who had helped Mr Coe and Mr Keeler.

'Universal Muslim state'

The court also heard that both Mr Small and Mr Coe had previously been photographed at a demonstration on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the US.

Mr Coe, 34, converted to Islam in 2007 and attended a number of demonstrations including protests over the banning of niqabs in France and the values of Sharia law, Mr Whittam said.

Mr Keeler, 44, had spoken out in favour of a "universal Muslim state founded on Sharia law", and accepted his religious views were considered "outside the mainstream by many people in the Western world".

Both Mr Keeler and Mr Coe were found in the back of the lorry on 30 November 2014 with 18 other people who were dealt with by immigration authorities.

Mr Keeler's false travel documents included the name, John Carpenter, while Mr Coe's featured the name Marcus Coleman, jurors were told.

The trial continues.

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