Amir Khan, the new sensation in the boxing world, has achieved several noteworthy feats at a young age of 25. He was the youngest British boxer to compete in Olympics in 2004 at the age of 17. Currently, he is the world champion in light welterweight category. His parents migrated to Britain from a small village near the town of Kahuta in Rawapindi district. Although born and raised in Britain, he is very deeply attached to his Pakistani and Muslim links. Amir was recently in United States on an invitation of US government to recognize his contributions, along with a group of 10 Muslim-American athletes, in promoting peace and harmony through sports. He took out time to speak exclusively with Dunya News about his biggest inspirations in life and how sports can be used to bring people together.
Question: You are a Muslim as well as of Pakistani origin where millions of youngsters idealize you. How difficult it was for you initially to achieve success in a challenging mainstream sport like boxing?
Answer: It has been very hard journey for me and it’s very hard for everyone. If you want to be successful in sport and you are young too, you need to try twice as hard. When I was 17 years of age, England did not want to send me to Olympic games, and I had a chance to go via Pakistan. But then England kind of said to me, look, we want you to go through us and we apologize. To be honest with you, I think now I see it quite different because you don’t really see the racism, you don’t really see the stereotypes and everything in sports. Sport is brilliant because everyone is treated equally and that s the way it should be.
Question: You are a Pakistani-Muslim youth icon known and admired allover the world at a time when there are a lot of misconceptions about Pakistan as well as Islamic religion. How these misgivings can be removed in your opinion?
Answer: There are a handful of bad people around but there are a lot of good people and I think sports breaks that barrier. Sport in a way brings everyone together. If you look at any of my fights and the crowd, you ll see English, Americans, Pakistanis, Indian, you ll see everyone watching me and supporting me., even though I might be fighting a British boxer. I think more sporting events around the world will break the racial barriers. There are 10 other Muslim athletes with me here including those of Pakistani origin and that s good because we promoting this sport for Pakistan and for the Muslims. I think we need more such events to promote sports.
Question: You are obviously very deeply tied to your oots and your religion and you recently performed Umrah as well. What role does religion play in your success as a professional sportsman?
Answer: Definitely, faith is a big thing in my career. That s the reason that has got me so far. All my success comes from Allah, who has put me in this position. I have to work hard and I always thank Allah for all the success. I went to perform Umrah recently with my whole family and my brother Haroon Khan, who is also a boxer and will be representing Pakistan in the next Olympics in 2012. Both of us always pray before the fight and faith is very close to our hearts. We believe in it big time because it keeps my feet on the ground. You have your own natural talent but you also need the divine blessings to achieve success. Without believing in religion, it is easy to get bigheaded but faith has kept me really down to earth.
Question: Amir, you are also involved in a lot of charity work. What s the motivation behind that?
Answer: That s one thing which I love doing to help the less fortunate people and that s the reason I do a lot of charity work for poor people like Pakistan earthquake and floods, Tsunami and my next project is to get involved in the charity work in the horn of Africa who are suffering without food, shelter and clothing. The message it gives to others is that the people who don t have food at the end of the day also deserve attention of others who are in a position to do so.
Question: What message you want to give to your fans in Pakistan?
Answer: My message to all my fans is that my next trip will be to Pakistan very soon and I look forward to see all my fan-base there like elsewhere in the world. Another message I want to send across to young kids out there is that if you want to achieve something in life, you have to work hard towards it. You might not achieve it in one year and may have to work for five years but as long as you keep working hard and pray to Allah, I am sure you ll be able to achieve it one day.
Thank You Mr. Amir Khan For Speaking To Dunya News.
Thank you. I Really Appreciate The Opportunity.