On August 28, 2004, a 17-year old amateur boxer from Bolton catapulted into the media spotlight after finishing a runner-up to Cuban great Mario Kindelan at the Olympics in
Athens 2004. He was challenging a 33-year-old triple world champion from Cuba, the idol of his countrymen, and after just four rounds, a new star was born.
“The kid was great,” said former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. “He has huge potential.”
Since then, Amir Khan has exploded onto the British sports scene. He met with Prime Minister
Tony Blair on his return from Athens and was introduced in the Reebok Stadium before watching his beloved Bolton play Manchester United. As well as competing in Superstars, he became an ambassador for the London 2012 Olympics bid and visited schools, town halls and hospitals all over the country.
“Even though it was incredible to receive that kind of reaction from people, to feel all that warmth, I was still disappointed that I lost to Kindelan in the Olympic final,” Khan reflected. “I felt like I had to beat him before turning professional and achieving all my goals.”
The rematch took place in his hometown, with 6.3 million viewers tuning in on ITV. Despite an unbeaten record stretching back to 2002 and an overall career record of 272 wins and only 19 defeats, Kindelan was outworked and out-boxed by the intensely focused Khan, who went on to turn professional on July 16, 2005 with a first round TKO of Phil Edwards.
Since then, Khan has ridden high at the top of his game to a rapturous reception in Britain, Stateside and beyond. Losing for the first time in his professional career to Columbian bruiser Breidis Prescott in September 2008 - the tempest of conjecture and condemnation fueled media frenzy was followed in quick succession by a grueling and inspirational new training regime with Coach Freddie Roach in LA.
The boy from Bolton came back to the ring with brutal vengeance as he sent Oisin Fagan flailing to the floor in December 2008. Khan did not just convincingly put the boy down for a compelling victory - he exuded a fresh, calm, persona; a measured aggressor spearing his prey with a jab as he circled, finding his target and then unleashing a flurry of blows, taking him apart and sending him to the floor twice inside the first round… 97 seconds into the second it was all over.
In March 2009 Amir stepped into the ring with Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera. Khan’s height and age advantages shone through as the 35 year-old Barerra struggled to keep up with Khan’s lightning pace. By utilizing his skills and his head, Khan easily exposed Barerra’s weaknesses and comfortably out-boxed him.
Khan's World Title Fight in July 2009 with Kotelnik was an extremely intense match. Both were in top form, but it was Khan’s display of speed, stamina and boxing skill that saw him take the 12 round unanimous decision victory and the WBA world junior welterweight championship.
In December 2009, Amir successfully defended his title against mandatory challenger Dmitriy Salita, needing a mere 76 seconds in the ring with the 27-year-old, who was unbeaten in 31 encounters going into the fight.
On May 15, 2010, Khan made his New York City debut when he successfully defended his title via 11th round TKO over former world champion Paulie Malignaggi.
But there are more highly-anticipated showdowns to come for “King” Khan, and one such matchup occurred on December 11, 2010, when he defended his title against interim belt holder Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas. For 12 rounds, the 140 pound standouts went to war, and when it was over, Khan not only earned a unanimous decision victory, but the bout was voted 2010 Fight of The Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
On April 16, 2011, Khan returned home and successfully defended his title with a sixth round technical decision win over unbeaten challenger Paul McCloskey, and on July 23rd, he added another belt to his collection when he knocked out Zab Judah in five rounds to win the IBF junior welterweight title.
Follow Amir on Twitter.
Bio Courtesy of Golden Boy Promotions