Overwhelmed by the response he has received in Pakistan as guest for the Benazir Bhutto International Championship, boxing superstar Amir Khan vows to bring a big fight to his ancestral country.
Q What kind of a reaction do you get when you’re in Pakistan? A. It has been great for me here, it’s been great to meet so many people who are fans. I’m surprised at how big we are here, how big boxing is here – everyone in Pakistan loves boxing. Everywhere I go; people know who Amir Khan is. I was in Lahore and before that I was in Islamabad and everywhere people want to take pictures and it’s been a great experience being here.
Birthplace: Bolton, England Total fights: 28 Wins: 26 Losses: 2 Olympics: Silver at the 2004 Athens GamesQ How is it different from how you are treated in Britain or elsewhere? A. Well, before this year, not many people over there (US) knew me. But it’s different over there now and it’s exactly the same in Pakistan, everyone seems to know who I am and I’m recognized everywhere I go here and it feels good.
Q How do you feel about your brother Haroon Khan representing Pakistan while you represent Britain? A. I think it’s great. He also won a medal at the Commonwealth Games for Pakistan and I was boxing for England and won a medal in the Olympic Games. I think it’s great he’s representing Pakistan and I’m going to be supporting him all the way.
Q You have said before that you will try and bring international sport back to Pakistan. How did you get that message across? A. The way we can bring sports back to Pakistan is by giving Pakistan’s positive side more exposure to the rest of the world and making sure that people experience that side. I’ve been trying to show everyone around the world that Pakistan is a safe country. I think it’s all about that and I want to try and play a greater role in promoting this image of Pakistan. They can see that I am here and I walk the streets and it’s fine…people in Pakistan love sports and it will be great if they get to see more international sports in their country.
Q What do you think can be done to promote boxing in Pakistan? A. I think one way to promote boxing in a big way is to show it more often on national television and have more boxing events – local and international ones. Not just boxing but sport gymnasiums should be built for the public so that not only boxing but other sports like football and cricket also have a chance of developing further in Pakistan. You never know the next boxer, footballer or cricketer coming from Pakistan might be a super star if the facilities are improved.
Q You are a role model for many Pakistani boxers. What do you have to say about that? A. I think it’s nice to be considered a role model for boxers and other people. To the boxers, I would just tell them to keep working, keep training hard and it will pay off.
Q How would you describe the past year for yourself with regards to your boxing career? A. There were ups and downs in the past year, we won one fight and lost the other one but overall it was a good year
Q What do you have planned for 2012? A. Hopefully, it will be a bigger and better year than 2011. I will most probably have my rematch with Lamont Peterson in May sometime and hopefully have some other big fights as well. Hopefully a big fight can also take place in Pakistan.
The writer is a Sports Producer at Dawn.com