Boxing: Contrite Khan hopes gym will fix it

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The Independent Online

Amir Khan received a fine and a ban last week for a motorway speeding offence, but he has also volunteered for some community service. His new gymnasium, in which he has invested £700,000 of his ring earnings, was opened by the Tory leader, David Cameron, on Thursday, and the Commonwealth lightweight champion promises to be available to help keep kids from going off the rails instead of on to them.

The gym, called Gloves, is backed by Network Rail as part of their campaign to offer an alternative to youngsters risking death or injury by playing on the lines. Khan himself will be letting the train take the strain for the next few months, with his £65,000 Mercedes parked permanently in the garage. The Bolton Flyer will also be running to work, since the gym is three miles from his home. "It's nice and flat all the way, a decent jog."

Recent court appearances for motoring offences have brought extra pressure on the 21-year-old. "I am very sorry for what happened. I know I shouldn't be doing things like that. But you learn, and I won't make those mistakes again. From now on I'm focusing on my boxing 100 per cent. I'm trying to handle my life the best way I can, as I've always done, but sometimes the pressure of being seen as a role model does get to me. I'm still the same person I always was."

The gym incorporates an area where kids can keep fit or take up boxing under the tuition of his former amateur coach, Mick Jelley, and there is a computer room for homework. Khan says: "I'm fiercely passionate about this project. I know personally how sport can channel aggression in the right direction."

Khan, who meets the Dane Martin Kristjansen at London's ExCel Arena on 2 February, was labelled "the Bolton bottler" by the British champion, Jon Thaxton, after he was pulled out of the bidding process for a British title fight, a decision which has more to do with politics than pugilism. "This fight will happen," Khan says, "but my priority has to be a world title shot later this year."