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My Mentor: Amir Khan

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The former light-welterweight world champion salutes his supportive father

My father, Shah Khan, has always been there for me.

I didn’t know what boxing was at age eight. I was hyperactive, so my dad took me to the gym to burn energy and put it into boxing. The sport put me on the right path, turning my energy into something positive. Boxing’s the only sport that teaches discipline – you have to listen to your trainer, otherwise you’re kicked out of the gym.

He’d come to the gym and hold the bags for me.

It was the gym round the corner from where we lived in Bolton. I loved its atmosphere, the advice I was given. I’d train hard. It felt like home for me. We used to go for runs near our home, too. I was nine or 10. Having a family to support you is a big help.

He treated me the same after I won Olympic silver.

I was only 17 and everything around me changed – I couldn’t even go to the corner shop. I only had silver, but it was like I’d won the gold medal. But everything was normal at home, which is what I needed. My family didn’t treat me any differently.

My dad helps in my training camp.

He makes sure everything’s good. He calls in my sparring partners, fixes their itineraries, keeps in touch with my dietician and gets things ready. It takes the pressure off the fight. I’ve been training in San Francisco with Virgil Hunter, and it’s been nice for my father to come running and training with me out here. It’s a camp we love, as we get away from all the distractions of the UK.

He is ringside for all of my fights.

A boxing ring is a very lonely place. It makes a difference knowing he’s there. It’s a big help, a big motivation. My dad’s always said to me, “You want to watch out in this sport, you’re always one punch away from being hurt.” I know he and my family will be the first ones to tell me to stop boxing.

Amir Khan is training for his next fight against Devon Alexander on 13 December at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. For tickets, visit sportscorporation.com or call 0845-163 0845

(Photograph: Mark Robinson/MDR Photography)

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