Sports

Excuses and poor diet are holding Asian athletes back, says boxer Amir Khan | Amir Khan

Excuses and poor diet are holding Asian athletes back, says boxer Amir Khan | Amir Khan

Amir Khan has accused young Asian athletes of giving themselves excuses and poor nutrition to keep them from reaching their potential. The 35-year-old former world champion boxer singled out Asian footballers, in particular, for their alleged lack of dedication and for allowing racism to undermine their development.

Speaking at a farewell press conference on Monday, after announced his retirement from boxing last week, Khan was asked if he was proud of his heritage. He turned professional in 2005, having won an Olympic silver medal the previous year at the age of 17, at a time when there were few top boxers of South Asian descent in Great Britain. Brittany. The situation is very different now and many talented Asian boxers cite Khan as an inspiration.

“They all want to try now,” Khan said. “It’s an amazing platform for them to see what I’ve done and it’s possible for them to do the same and achieve what I’ve achieved. People were saying, ‘We are Muslims, we are Asians, we can’t do boxing. We are not going to be chosen. It’s an excuse that all Asians use – that we will never be chosen.

“Look at football for example. There are no Asian footballers but guess what they all say? “We will not be chosen because we are Asian.” I think that’s fucking bullshit, really. It’s a bunch of bullshit. Asians, when you can’t up to a point, give up. We don’t have it in us.

“Look, we Asians aren’t really supposed to be fighters. We are not supposed to be good sportsmen. Our food is appalling. It’s curries. This is not the right diet to be a champion. If you pit us against a lot of English fighters, their diets are much better. They are stronger than us.

“But obviously, I changed my way of life. Fortunately, I started very young. But few Asians become athletic because we don’t have the diet. We don’t have the dedication. But if we see someone do it, like they’ve seen me do it, maybe that can inspire and motivate them. If Amir Khan did it, being Asian and living on chapatis all his life and eating curries, we can do it. But you still have to take it easy on these things.

Khan recalled how his own ethnicity, as a young British boxer with strong family roots in Pakistan, was often attacked. After the London terror attacks in 2005, he chose to speak out and emphasize that his allegiance was with Britain and to remind people that he was born and raised in Bolton. “I’m happy to be a fighter and I can pack a punch and try a bit if I have to,” Khan said from his home in Bolton.

“If another Asian had made those remarks, other Asians might have taken it the wrong way and wanted to start a fight. But nobody started a fight with me.

“Look, I only told the truth. I am totally against terrorism. I think that’s wrong. All nations must respect each other and be together. Look at my house now. I have a Jewish brother here, an Indian brother here and a Pakistani brother here. I am a very multicultural brother. When people introduce religion or racism into something, I think that’s rubbish. I’ve always been against it and I’ve always told the truth.

Khan lost the last fight of his 40-fight career in February when he was stopped by bitter rival Kell Brook – who also announced his retirement this month. The two fighters made peace after the fight, but Khan suggested on Monday that he knew long before the first bell that his career was about to end.

“When I was at training camp I had injuries but I didn’t want to tell people because I didn’t want them to say, ‘Amir is making excuses.’ I tore my rotator cuff, my tendon split in two in my right arm. It’s still sore now and I can’t lift it much. Then my knees hurt in boot camp. I was always pushing me hard and that’s when it hit me, ‘You know what? I don’t have that in me anymore.

“But I couldn’t let anyone down, especially the fans. I can’t walk away from this fight, so I’m going to keep going. But deep down, I wasn’t mentally prepared. I had trained hard, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t have it in me. I had already finished as a fighter.

Khan insisted he had “no regrets because everyone would have hated me for not taking that fight”. He said: “In boxing there is always a winner and a loser and people know I gave them the fight they always wanted. Maybe it would have been a different story if it had been a few years earlier, but that’s how it is. That night Kell was the better fighter and he won.

“I think I will be remembered as a fighter who never backed down from anyone. I tried to give everyone the biggest fights they ever wanted, tried to have them on the edge of their seat and win, lose or draw, it was always an exciting night. I hope people will always remember that Amir Khan was an exciting fighter, who gave it his all when he got in the ring.

Khan also let slip that he would be returning to reality TV this year – after appearing on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here in 2017. “I was asked to do a really, really big show. I can’t give you the name. But I’ll give you a hint. I’ve been there before so…”

After bursting out laughing, Khan said, a little shyly, “I’m not saying anything. I was asked to go there. I think it will be brilliant. I think people can see another side of me and it would be nice to do something like that.

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