February 9, 2023

The man whose name was given to four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah is making a meager living for himself in a poor suburb of the Turkish city of Istanbul.

While his namesake was knighted for his triumphs on the track in 2017 and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle, Mohamed Farah was recently forced to move from a shabby shared room when a migrant organization could no longer afford the £2.70-a-day rent.

The 39-year-old spends much of his day killing time in a park, smoking cigarettes, or sitting by the roadside eating plates of food served by sympathetic Turkish friends.

The remarkable story of the two Mo Farahs emerged in a BBC documentary earlier this month, in which the athlete – born Hussein Abdi Kahin – told how he was smuggled from Africa to Britain for domestic service by a family friend.

Mohammed Farah, 39, was born into poverty, like Sir Mo, in Mogadishu, Somalia, and is said to be studying at Aydin University in Istanbul, but officials have no records of him attending

Sir Mo (pictured with his wife, Tania) was brought to the UK by a woman named Nimco Farah and claims that Mukhtar was his real father

Nimco Farah, the woman who brought the future Olympian to the UK when he was eight, gave him Mohamed’s name when Mohamed’s biological mother – an ex-wife of Nimco’s husband Mukhtar – refused to leave him for Britain.

After being expelled from Nimco – which disputes the slavery claims – by social services, Mo’s athletic prowess was nurtured, culminating in his notable double Olympic victories in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

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The Somali-born athlete’s success has led to a red carpet lifestyle and considerable wealth. He, his wife and four children live in a multimillion pound house in South West London and have a fleet of vehicles including a £200,000 Bentley Continental GT and £60,000 Porsche Macan S.

For his namesake – tracked down by The Mail on Sunday last week – life could hardly be any different. He arrived in Istanbul from Kenya two years ago and until recently lived in a dormitory, his rent paid by a Yemeni charity until the money ran out. Friends say he now lives in a neighborhood nicknamed ‘Mogadishu’ due to the number of Somali migrants living there. He was supposed to study at Aydin University in Istanbul, but officials could not find any records of him.

The student houses at Aydin University in Istanbul, where Mohamed Farah lived until the charity that paid his rent ran out of money

He picks up his daily pack of cigarettes from a supermarket where the owner, Ismail, said: ‘He is a quiet person and very humble. His nickname is Moallim [Arabic for teacher].’

The link between Mohamed and the famous sportsman only became known to friends in Istanbul after the documentary aired.

Ismail said: ‘Mohamed knew from childhood that his name was used by another child to go to the UK who became an athlete, but he didn’t tell anyone until Mo Farah said it on TV. Only then did he tell people about it. This is the kind of person he is.’

Ismail’s wife, Aliye, said Mohamed, who is single and born in Mogadishu, is struggling financially, but had worked in a furniture store for a short time until three months ago, earning the equivalent of £140 a month. “He always looked the poorest of his friends,” she added.

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Earlier this month, Aliye invited Mohamed and five other Somali migrants to join them in celebrating Eid’s Muslim festival. Photos show the group sitting around a makeshift table made up of crates, feasting on lamb and rice.

Mohammed traveled to Turkey two years ago with ‘a dream’ of living in the UK, and has said he would love to meet the Olympic winner in person

Nimco Farah, 54, (left) said she was forced to bring the future Olympian into the country on a forged visa, and denied claims she treated him like a slave. Mukhtar Farah, (right) was Nimco’s husband, when Sir Mo Farah was smuggled into the UK

In the BBC1 documentary The Real Mo Farah, the athlete and his namesake were seen talking on WhatsApp. “I would love to come to the UK,” Mohamed told the Olympian. “I’ll do my best to make it happen,” Sir Mo replied.

Ismail says his friend hopes that promise will be fulfilled. “Mohamed never wanted to go to the UK until Mo Farah contacted him a few months ago and told him he would be taking him to the UK,” he said. “Now he wants to go to the UK.”

Friends claim the reunion could take place in weeks and the BBC has been granted a visa as part of a follow-up programme. But the BBC said last night there were no plans to bring Mohamed to the UK.

Another friend, Hassan, who lived with Mohamed when he first moved to Istanbul, in a run-down dormitory in the suburb of Kucukcekmece, said: ‘He is now getting ready to move to the UK for good.’

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Perhaps for fear of jeopardizing those plans, Mohamed turns down offers to tell his story. After contacting MoS, he said, “I’m not ready to give an interview just yet.”

Additional reporting by Molly Clayton