By Jake Donovan
It’s been just over a year since Amir Khan last registered an official win in the ring, but he’s still a hero to his fans back home in Great Britain – enough to where he proudly carries the title of Olympic ambassador for his this year’s competition in London.
Khan was part of the traditional torch relay earlier this summer, while training for his 140 lb. title bout with Danny Garcia earlier this month. The latter didn’t turn out so well, suffering three knockdowns in a 4th round knockout loss to the unbeaten Philly-bred fighter.
However, the next few weeks will prove there is no place like home for Khan, who gets a chance to revisit his roots while proudly serving his nation.
“I’m going to be supporting the Olympic Games and I think it’s brilliant to have the Olympics in Britain,” Khan proudly commented on the subject. “When will we ever get that chance again in our lifetime to have the Olympics in our country?”
The last time London played host to the Summer Olympics was in 1948. Three failed attempts followed to bring the games back to the UK, losing bids in 1992, 1996 and 2000 before focusing on winning the rights to host in 2012.
Khan has taken great pride in his nation’s hosting responsibilities, as much pride as when he was a one-man team for Great Britain in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
Khan was just 17 years old at the time, and his amazing run became a worldwide phenomenon even in coming up short to heavily favored Mario Kindelan – 16 years Khan’s senior at the time - in the Gold medal round. Kindelan beat Khan for the second time in the amateurs, with this win making the Cuban a two-time Olympic Gold medalist, leaving Khan to take home the silver.
However, it was Khan who would have the last laugh. The two faced each other a third time one year later, with Khan emerging victorious in what represented the final amateur fight for both fighters.
Khan turned pro soon thereafter, while Kindelan called it quits after leading a long and storied career.
Despite the fanfare enjoyed during that time, the one regret Khan had of his time in Greece was spending too much of it staring at a boxing ring. That, in part, factored into his desire to work with the program while the Games were so close to home.
“I want to make the most of it. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it,” Khan insists. “I’m going to try to attend every event because when I was in the Olympics in 2004, I never had a chance to go to any other sport apart from boxing. That’s when I was fighting, so this at least gives me the opportunity to go to the other sports.”
Great Britain fielded a full boxing squad for the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, coming hold with a Gold and two Bronze medals. James ‘Chunky’ DeGale captured the lone Gold medal, topping Emilio Correa of Cuba in the finals. His successful run included wins over Darren Sutherland of Ireland in the semifinals and current American prospect Shawn Estrada in round two of the competition.
This year’s boxing field features 10 fighters for Great Britain – 7 on the male side, along with three female boxers ready to ring in the debut of women’s boxing in the Olympics. Khan plans to be alongside his countrymen (and women) as often as possibile.
The fighter’s presence has already been felt. In addition to participating in the torch relay, Khan was on hand for the Opening Ceremony on Friday evening, enjoying fun times with fans in attendance.
Some even made his personal scrapbook.
“I told them ‘Smile, [I’]l[l] tweet a pic, so they waved,” Khan commented on his Twitter feed, snapping and posting a picture of adoring fans before making his way to the studio booth.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox