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Khan goes for the knock out

Khan goes for the knock out

Issue 6 Jun / Jul 2004

The British Olympic delegation contains within it's midst a young Muslim hopeful who will be flying the UK flag with pride. Amir Khan will be the country’s only boxer at the Games. The 17-year-old Bolton College student is being hailed the new golden boy of English amateur boxing after securing his place at this summer’s Games by winning the Strandja Cup, which doubled up as an Olympic qualifying competition, in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. He has been described by his coach as, “aprecocious talent, and probably the best we have produced in years.” Some boxing enthusiasts have even likened him to the young Muhammad Ali.

Khan was an energetic eight-year-old when his father, a Bolton motor mechanic, decided to take him to a nearby boxing gymnasium. He developed an enthusiasm for boxing but the sport became a passion after he watched a video of Ali’s 1974 world heavyweight title victory over George Foreman. “I sat and watched it with my dad,” Khan remembers, “and I was really inspired. Since then I have been going to the gym and I have never missed a session.”

Khan soon emerged as a natural talent. Within three years he was fighting competitively, moving to the Bury Boxing Club where, under the watchful eye of Mick Jelley, he soon made a name for himself. In an impressive 90 amateur fights he has lost only eight, however he does concede that the odds are stacked against him in Athens, especially since losing his latest fight to a world champion. Khan is clear about what he wants, “My main priorities are to fight for Britain. I did have a chance to box for Pakistan but I’ve lived here all my life. I feel British.” Khan, refreshingly mature and level-headed, doesn’t like the label ‘the new Naz’. He prefers Ali and Hatton. “I grew up watching and loving Muhammad Ali on my dad’s tapes. He was a clever boxer who can adapt to any style. I think his style was different to all other boxers, he was something inspirational. He was quick with hands speed and feet, all of which makes a good boxer. I’ve also met Ricky Hatton a few times. I like his down-to-earth personality and his fighting style.”

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