Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Khan Fighting for High Stakes Again

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Khan Fighting for High Stakes Again

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

AMIR Khan would prefer his race and religion was never an issue but Britain's most popular Muslim recognises he is fighting for more than just belts every time he steps into the ring.

Khan, who defends his WBA Light-Welterweight title for the first time against Dimitry Salita in Newcastle tonight, is seen as a positive role model for young British Muslims and there is no doubt his emergence as a world class sportsman has helped change many people's perceptions of race.

But the 23-year-old insisted he has not always received a positive response from people, either inside or outside of his sport, as he claimed some had been delighted to see him lose to Breidis Prescott in his only defeat as a professional last year.

He said: "It's probably jealousy and sometimes skin colour does make a difference. I know if maybe I was a white English fighter, I would be a superstar in Britain and the world.

"I never get racial remarks, but it's always out there, which you can't stop. You just live and learn about what people are like. I just choose to ignore them and carry on with my career.

"Straight after the Prescott fight, when people said 'he's finished' there were racial remarks made. But it made me stronger, it made me come back stronger and made be a better fighter. "I'm proud to be British and it's a very small minority who says that, but it does hurt you and it pushes you all the way.

"I went to the Olympic Games for Britain and won a medal for Britain and then won a world title for Britain, but sometimes you don't see the appreciation."

With an opponent in the ring aiming to knock him senseless, Khan has more pressing matters to worry about this evening, but the young man from Bolton knows he has a wider fight to win.

He added: "I'm confronting issue like the London bombings, to fix things between the Asian community and English community because there's always going to be things there, like racial things and not getting on with each other. …

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