Mr Dickinson by Amir Khan

Times Educational Supplement, August 8, 2014 | Go to article overview

Mr Dickinson by Amir Khan


The two-time boxing world champion remembers the cool, calm and collected PE teacher he owes 'big time'

My PE teacher between the ages of 12 and 16 really helped me out. I went to Smithills School in Bolton and Mr Dickinson filled me with self-confidence.

I was always a good student, in sport especially. I worked hard at it, always have. But Mr Dickinson made sure I didn't just stick to one sport. He got me into running, swimming, cricket, football - the works. He didn't make you focus on the one thing you were good at; he would push you to try to be the best you could be at all sports.

The key to why he was such a great teacher, though, was what he taught outside of the actual activity. He showed us how to keep fit, he told us the diet side of it and the importance of knowing the human body. It's worth bearing in mind that, outside of school, I was deeply into my boxing, so all the things he was teaching me about nutrition and fitness applied inside the ring. Mr Dickinson taught me about my body: how the muscles work; how to keep hydrated so you can get the best out of yourself. He made a massive difference to my boxing career. I owe him, big time.

To this day, I do things as a direct result of what Mr Dickinson taught me, particularly nutrition. He taught me about how much protein to eat to maximise training, what carbs to eat and when - basically, how to get yourself nice and strong before intense exercise. I've stuck to those things.

He was universally popular with the kids. He never used to shout, he would just explain things calmly and that worked for us, certainly for me. A very calm guy. I respected him like I would a friend. He was, actually: he was a friend to me. Still is. He would come to watch me fight all the time, too. I mean, that's support from a teacher.

Teachers who shout, I believe, really struggle to get their message across. Shouting's a short-term fix. In boxing, if I'm in the corner of the ring and I'm taking punches, shouting's an injection of authority to push me to get out of that corner. …

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