Dubai: Two-time world champion Amir Khan, one of the top stars of British boxing, is set to follow in the footsteps of some of the sporting world’s biggest names who call Dubai their home.
Khan, 33, is keen to complete the move to Dubai with his wife Faryal, two daughters - Lamaisah and Alayna - and four-month son Mohammed in the next couple of months, so that his elder daughter can start her new school year here.
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The boxer, whose grandfather came to the United Kingdom from Pakistan, also has plans to open a boxing academy here and is keen to organise big boxing fights in Dubai. And, he is also still hoping to stage the long-touted bout with good friend and Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao here.
Khan, who is also a reality TV star, promoter and a philanthropist, revealed his plans during his visit to Dubai Sports Council on Tuesday, where he met Saeed Hareb, General Secretary of Dubai Sports Council (DSC), and Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General, to discuss his future projects.
“First of all, I would like to thank Saeed Hareb for having us here today,” said Khan, who won a silver medal at the age of 17 in the lightweight division at the 2004 Olympics to become Britain’s youngest boxing Olympic medallist. He is also one of the youngest ever British professional world champion, winning the WBA title at the age of 22.
“It is amazing for us to be here and see Dubai Sports Council. We have just seen all the great athletes that have come into this building. Obviously with me being one of them now as well, I am really happy. It’s great to be here and to see the vision that Dubai has in sport for the future.”
One of the most recognisable and talented fighters of his generation, Khan has been a regular visitor to Dubai over the past 15 years. Now, impressed with the city’s hospitality and how safe it is for everyone, he is hunting for a property where he can settle with his family.
“I will always call Dubai my second home,” he said.
“It’s lovely, I love the place. I think the people in Dubai are amazing. I have made some great friends here, and have a lot of friends here. It is amazing how you are treated here. I have a lot of love and a lot of respect, and yeah, I just love it here.
Elaborating on his academy plans, Khan added: “I would love to open an academy here. See, one thing that boxing teaches you is discipline and that’s what I want to teach people. I want to teach them discipline and I think having an academy here is definitely going to make a big difference for the people, for the youth, and also get them into boxing and also, maybe, one day we can have boxing events here.
“I think it starts from grassroots level where if we have boxing academies here first, then people will get more involved in boxing and then they will host boxing events.”
Surprised that Dubai, one of the top sporting destinations of the world, has still not staged a top boxing bout, Khan is also hoping he can set the record straight by staging his swansong here.He would love to fight Manny Pacquiao, the only eight-division world champion in boxing history, in that dream farewell bout.
“There’s always been talk about having big fights in Dubai, but it has never happened,” he said. “Maybe in the future it could happen. We did the last fight in Saudi Arabia, which was a massive hit and obviously since then, you have seen how boxing has gone to Saudi Arabia more often. So let’s do that for Dubai.
“There has always been talk about Manny Pacquiao [him and Pacquiao fighting in Dubai]. See, me and Manny are friends and I would love that fight, if it ever happens. But if not, we are still friends and I wish him all the best.”
Khan would also be content if he were never to step into a ring again. Fighting competitively since the age of 11, he boasts an overall record of 101-9. He made his pro debut in 2005 aged just 18 at the Bolton Arena, beating David Bailey by TKO in front of an adoring home crowd, with 4.4 million watching on ITV. In the 15 years since, he has earned the reputation of being a gifted athlete, blessed with phenomenal reflexes, bravery and fast hands. He owns a 34-5 record, with 21 KOs.
Khan’s last bout took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 12 months ago, and he believes he has achieved everything he had set out to achieve as a boxer.
“Let’s see what the situation I am in and who the opponents are,” he said.
“We ae just going to take our time. Once this COVID-19 pandemic ends, let’s see what options are out there. At the end of the day, I have been in the game a very long time. I have literally achieved everything I wanted in the sport. I was very happy to win one world title, and I have won many. So I am just enjoying this last chapter of my career,” he added.