Boxing: Khan deepens rift with amateur ranks

Shah Khan, the father of Amir Khan, yesterday argued that British amateur boxing officials have maltreated the Olympic silver medallist since his withdrawal from the ABA Championships.

Shah Khan, the father of Amir Khan, yesterday argued that British amateur boxing officials have maltreated the Olympic silver medallist since his withdrawal from the ABA Championships.

Shah Khan defended his son against claims that his camp had made unreasonable ticket demands for the fight against John Martin of Canvey Island, which was scheduled for tonight at a venue near Great Yarmouth.

The 18-year-old from Bolton has denied reports that a switch to the professional ranks is imminent, although the promoter Frank Warren was hopeful yesterday that he would "swing it" and prise Khan away from the amateurs in the near future.

Speaking yesterday, Shah Khan said: "Amir has done so much for the amateur boxing stage, it's unbelievable. He deserves more than they're saying about him."

Khan was originally offered just 10 tickets for the fight against Martin, with his camp claiming they had expected hundreds more, in line with his recent bouts.

But the Ocean Rooms venue does not have the capacity to hold the number of followers that the Khan camp claim would want to see the teenager in action, sparking the row which led not only to his withdrawal from the fight but also to the acrimony which ensued.

The ABA England director, Keith Walters, attempted to defuse the tension by changing the timing of the event, allowing extra space for seats in the venue, thereby giving Khan the option of more tickets. But his efforts went without reward as the Khan camp insisted that the fight would not go ahead.

Shah Khan said: "We had a lot of trouble about three years ago at the schoolboy championships in Essex and there was a big kick-off in there because there weren't enough tickets for people to be able to go to the event. And that's exactly what would have happened here."

Organisers of the latest round of ABA fights claim they now have a problem on their hands, having sold tickets on the premise that Khan would fight.

Walters has been as disappointed as any boxing official by Khan's withdrawal, but Shah Khan hit out yesterday, saying: "All these guys, Keith Walters, would be out of a job if Amir hadn't brought a medal back from the Olympics.

"Everyone wants to pull him down now. Amir Khan wasn't even allowed to go for the qualifiers but we pushed him. I, myself, his father, pushed Keith Walters and all these people that Amir Khan wanted to go for these qualifiers."

Khan gave a press conference in Bolton on Thursday to state his position, and ruled out going for Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008.

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