It’s been a time of transformation for St Kilda defender Beau Wilkes. Last year, establishing a regular place in the Saints team after a fringe existence at West Coast, he re-invented himself as a footballer.
But now he’s re-invented himself as a person, changing his name so that he is now Beau Maister.
His reason for changing name is personal, removing his father’s name and replacing it with his mother’s maiden name.
It’s unusual for a sportsman to change his name, but far from unique.
Maister is the second current AFL player to have changed his name. Hawthorn’s Brian Lake was originally Brian Harris.
In recent memory was Kristian Bardsley, who played for the Saints in the 1997 grand final. Bardsley started his career as Kristian Anning.
Lake and Bardsley changed their names for similar family reasons to Maister.
Some have changed names because of awkward family connections. Don Bradman’s son, struggling to emerge from his father’s enormous shadow, changed his name to John Bradson.
Decades later he would reconcile with his father and change it back.
Another who found the family name hard to cope with was 1970s fast bowler Len Pascoe. Born Leonard Durtanovich, at a time when ‘ethnics’ were hard to find in cricketing circles, he changed to a name that ‘Anglos’ would find easier to pronounce.
Pascoe isn’t the only player from European stock to anglicise his name. Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos last year changed his name to Michael Theo.
On the road to Damascus, Saul converted to Christianity and changed his name to Paul to testify to the change of religion. It’s a trend that has long continued since.
American boxer Cassius Clay, after his conversion to Islam, became Mohammed Ali. Basketballer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was originally Lew Alcindor.
In a similar way, Pakistan cricketer Yousuf Youhana changed his name to Mohammad Yousuf after he converted to Islam in 2005.
In Yousuf’s extraordinary career, he broke the record for the most Test runs in a calendar year in 2006, and then was twice banned for life and recalled to the team, even returning to the Pakistan captaincy.
Sri Lanka’s Tillekeratne Dilshan was originally Turwan Mohammed Dilshan, but changed his name when he converted to Buddhism.
There’s the occasional player who changed their name for political reasons. Abdul Hafeez represented India before World War II.
After the war, and Pakistan breaking away from India, he took the surname Kardar, becoming Pakistan’s first captain and later an influential figure in Pakistani politics.
Basketballer Ron Artest showed his pacifist ideals in 2011, changing his name to Metta World Peace.
One of the more bizarre name changes was Geelong’s Garry Hocking. For a week in 1998, he changed his name to Whiskas, in a sponsorship deal. A week later he changed it back. The AFL refused to recognise the name change.
For female sportspeople, there’s always the dilemma of whether to change their name when getting married.
Many have kept the name they had when they were building their reputation; but some have taken their husband’s name.
This list is far from exhaustive. There are many others, across a wide variety of sports, who have made the steps to change their name and take on a new identity.
So for Beau Maister, he is far from unique. And, as experience has shown with past sportspeople who have changed their name, the fans don’t take long to accept and recognise such players by their new names.