Amir Khan on charity, success, Mayweather
Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) was fasting for Ramadan when Boxing Monthly popped over to his Gloves Community Centre gym, which is situated on the outskirts of Bolton town centre.
The 28-year-old Boltonian told BM that the rigours of his annual fast helps to focus his mind on the plight of those less fortunate than him. This concern for others led to the creation of The Amir Khan Foundation, which provides funding for various charity projects.
“I want to build orphanages around the world, create wells for clean water and do whatever I can do to help,” stated Khan. “I’ve been to places like Gambia and places in Pakistan where there’s poverty, so that’s why I do that and pay my Zakat [Islam's Charity Tax]. Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam - we have to give to the poor. I go to those places myself to see what the Foundation is achieving.
“It’s not that expensive to build wells and provide water, you can spend a few thousand pounds and provide clean drinking water for people. I’ve got a young girl myself, I wouldn’t want to imagine her in a position where she’s hungry or thirsty - that’s what motivates me.
“After a fight, we do about 50 events. They always sell out and people are generous with their donations, so I’d like to thank them, too, and assure them that every penny raised goes to the poor.”
He added: “I want every pound to go where it needs to go. We put some of it into orphanages because the young kids are the future, if you look after them they’ll look after the younger generation when they get older - and it snowballs from there.”
Khan had already amassed a great deal of fame and fortune prior to turning professional in 2005. He was the sole British boxer at the 2004 Olympic Games, earning a silver medal after losing to Mario Kindelan in the final, and the entire nation got behind the youngster following the Games.
Despite this, the former WBA and IBF light-welterweight titlist told me that it is the glory, not the money, that motivates him. “As a kid, I told myself I’d have a nice car and house so indirectly I knew that I was going to do well in boxing,” he said.
“There’s only a small percent of fighters in the world who make enough money to live on and do not have to work. I’ve been fortunate to be in a very lucky position. I signed a big fight contract before my first professional fight. It meant that I was a millionaire. That’s when it hit me that I’d secured enough already to look after my family. I do the things I do for my family and my people. I enjoy my family life.
“Don’t get me wrong, I do treat myself, but I like to see my little girl, my wife and others enjoy the success. I’ve seen fighters who enjoy the success too much themselves, it sends them off track and some end up broke, so I want to invest my money in the right way to make sure it lasts me my whole life.”
Khan still lives in Bolton, but he trains with Virgil Hunter in America and fights there on a regular basis. The former star amateur set his stall out early in his career, America had called to him for a long time and he dreamed of boxing over there on a regular basis.
“My motivation was to become a world champion and fight in America and Vegas one day,” revealed Khan. “I’ve done what I wanted to do with my life, I’ve won world titles and headlined at the MGM [Grand in Las Vegas] after fighting on an undercard there before that. It’s an honour and a privilege to be in that position.
“I’ve headlined in New York, Washington and LA, not many fighters get a chance to do those things. I went with my heart, I didn’t go for the money. In fact, I might have made less than I could have, but I got to do what I set out to do.”
Still, the North West and Bolton is always close to his heart. He said: “I’m part of the furniture here in Bolton. When I go to other places, they’re not used to seeing me so I get more attention. I could have moved to America, where my trainer is and my wife is from, but I always back home to Bolton as it’s where I grew up.”
Khan on Floyd Mayweather Jr:
“In most fights, he takes over after six rounds because his speed, movement and skills dishearten people to the point where they think: ‘I can’t do this’, but I wouldn’t let him do that to me - it’d be a very technical match,” said Khan when talk turned to his desire to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.
However, if you want to read Khan's full take on the sport’s pound-for-pound king you will have to pick up a copy of this month’s magazine. The August 2015 Boxing Monthly is available in stores from Thursday 30th July and via app on iTunes now.