Amir Khan - The Boy They Love To Hate

Amir KhanBy Ziggy Shah: Throughout the 1990’s there was one British boxer who stood head and shoulders above them all, former WBO middle and super middleweight champion, Chris Eubank. He was without a doubt one of the greatest fighters the country has ever produced. However, despite his success, he was also perhaps the most hated boxer in British history, and for many years I have been puzzled as to why there was such hatred for a man who sacrificed so much for his sport and his country. Whether it was down to his cocky arrogant nature, or the fact that he was a poser who loved attention, one thing is sure, he was indeed ‘the man they loved to hate’.

Over a decade later we again face the same scenario, but this time the man is a boy, he is not cocky or arrogant, and most of all he does not thrive on the attention like his predecessor. Ladies and Gentlemen let me introduce you to, Amir Khan. Confused? Well don’t be..

He may be young, rich and talented and quite possibly on the road to becoming Britain’s greatest ever boxer, but that hasn’t stopped him being a figure of hate for a large section of British fight fans. Any sportsman or celebrity who put themselves in the limelight can expect their fair share of critics but the hatred becomes much worse when it is fixated on race

The proof was seen after Khan’s shock defeat to Breidis Prescott in September. The public reaction to this echoed the feeling that was hidden amongst many boxing fans. It’s almost as though they were waiting for it to happen. Within hours of defeat, live boxing Internet forums were covered with phrases such as ‘the paki deserved it’, ‘Prescott the paki basher’ and other sick comments relating to Khan’s race, cultural identity and the legitimacy of his being British.

More recently, instead of celebrating his victory over the Mexican legend, Marco Antonio Barrera, many fans are accusing him of intentionally head-butting his opponent in a bid to gain an advantage.

Any moderate fight fans would however, agree that from the moment Barrera was caught flush, he would lose the contest.

Barrera was too small and slow and looked over-matched against the younger, hungrier Khan.

This however, did not deter fans from bombarding Asian spectators with racial abuse, something which has been present at all Khan’s fights but is over looked by any media coverage. Also, as you read, the abuse continues on boxing websites and forums throughout the world. Still the hatred grows with every successful step he takes in accomplishing his dream, and still they wait and pray for another ‘Prescott slaying’.

The abuse seems unreasonable, given the fact that it was Khan who brought back a silver medal for his country at the Athens Olympics in 2004. And it is Khan who spends his time on the road championing good causes, so that anyone from any race or cultural background can in some way benefit from him.

Khan does not drink, smoke or enjoy the high life; his dedication to his sport should itself excel him into being a perfect role model for young and old regardless of colour or creed. He has represented his country in a manner in which any patriotic Englishman would be proud, however, in reality no matter what he does or does not achieve in the future, he will still be regarded by a large section of British fight fans, as quite simply, ‘a foreigner.’

So what now? There is no easy answer or solution to this deep rooted problem, but all true British boxing fans need to get out there and get behind their best young prospect and show him the respect and adulation he so rightly deserves.

Article posted on 07.05.2009

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