Amir Khan: The two-time world champion boxer on Muhammad Ali, training during Ramadan, and why he loves Bolton

"I love Muhammad Ali," he tells The Independent. "I think he was a great fighter and a great person outside the boxing ring."

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The Independent Online

What did your mum say when you started boxing?

I started at the age of eight. When I was younger I was very hyperactive so my dad took me to a boxing club in Bolton. Mum and my grandma were really happy I was going there. They didn't want to see me get hurt, but they knew I was a tough kid.

Do you have any pre-fight rituals?

Not really, I just do my prayers before I fight. And I ring my mum before I leave the hotel for the venue because she never comes to the fight.

As a Muslim, is it tough training through Ramadan?

It's always very hard but your body gets used to it after a couple of days. Normally I just take the month off. If I do a little bit of training it's going to be very late, at the time I'm allowed to eat.

Are there any particular books from which you've drawn your philosophy in the ring, à la Sun Tzu's Art of War?

It's documentaries for me, mainly. I watch documentaries about Muhammad Ali and Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard. That inspires you because you see what they did in their career and I'm going through exactly that myself – you learn off them when they say "Look, we did this wrong" or "If we did this, it would've been different", so you work out how not to make the same mistakes.

Is there any particular fighter you look up to?

I love Muhammad Ali. I think he was a great fighter and a great person outside the boxing ring. What he did, sticking to his religion and helping others out – he was a people's champion.

How many rounds do you think you could last against him?

Ha, I don't think I would. He was one of the best. But he's one of those guys, me being a lighter weight than him, I don't think he'd want to hit me because of the respect he had for other fighters. Before the fight he might have been disrespectful, but afterwards he was always very cool with them. People do that before a fight, obviously: try to get under the other fighter's skin.

The trash talking. Do you enjoy that side of things?

I don't really like doing that. I just let my fists do the talking when I'm in the ring. It's not about being big-headed, it's about being confident.

You still live in Bolton. How come?

I was born there, I grew up there, my family's from there. I have my base there. I'm hardly in the country as I'm always in America training. When I am at home it's nice to go somewhere peaceful and quiet, where you have your friends and family and people you know around you.

For some fighters, there's a culture of splashing the cash. How do you make sure you don't end up doing a Tyson?

I've never been that type, really. Boxing is a tough sport. I work so hard. I'm not one of those guys who doesn't spend. I enjoy myself, I spend on things I like. It's about having the things I've always dreamed of: a nice house, a nice car, a couple of nice watches. I've seen mistakes that other professionals have made, and I don't want to be one of them.

How has fatherhood affected things?

I think it's probably given me more motivation: made me train harder. At the end of the day, I have a little girl now. It gives you a purpose. For them to have an easier life when they're older, you have to work hard and give 100 per cent.

Biography

Amir Khan, 27, was born in Bolton. Boxing competitively from the age of 11, he won an Olympic silver six years later and went on to become two-time world champion. He is currently training for his next fight against Devon Alexander on 13 December at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. For tickets visit sportscorporation.com or call 0845 163 0845

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