Amir Khan says he is 'more British than UKIP' and describes young jihadis as 'brainwashed'

'Kids don’t grow up thinking about going out and killing innocent people'

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Amir Khan has described himself as "more British than UKIP" because he fought for his country at the Olympic Games.

In response to claims that cultural tolerance is decreasing in his hometown of Bolton, where UKIP is doing well, the boxer said: “I’ve got nothing but a lot of love here from a lot of people.

“But maybe it’s because I’m probably more British than UKIP are because I represented the country in the Olympic Games.

“I also fight for the country and I’ve won medals and titles for the UK. So I’m more British than them.”

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An Olympic portrait of Amir Khan

When asked about young British Muslim jihadists Khan said: “People are brainwashing them. Kids don’t grow up thinking about going out and killing innocent people. It’s why I go to schools and tell them: ‘Look, you want to follow the right path. You want to represent your country in a good way. You want to build a name for yourself and your families.’”

“Obviously innocent people shouldn’t be killed. Obviously this is wrong,” he continued.

Khan's comments come after three schoolgirls from the Bethnal Green Academy in east London fled to join Isis in Syria.

They disappeared during the February  half-term holiday, possibly after being radicalised online and instructed by Isis recruiters on how to evade security.

Khan has been in the political limelight since the beginning of his career.

Amir Khan celebrates a knockout

His first professional fight was nine days after the 7/7 bombings – Khan entered the ring in a pair of Union Jack shorts.

He has been the target of a good deal of venom over the years.

A friend of his describes a fight: “I saw him fight in Manchester and, you know, the boxing crowd is not like at a football match – it’s late, people are drunk, and there was a lot of very blatant racial abuse going on from certain sections of the crowd.

“He doesn’t engage in it, but boxing draws a very traditional working-class white-male following… and it can be quite ugly.”

Khan’s grandfather was born in the Punjab and moved to Britain to work in a cotton mill before building up two businesses.