Khan returns home to a hero's welcome

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The Independent Online

A bhangra band played yesterday to welcome home Amir Khan, the teenage boxer who became one of the sensations of the Olympic Games.

The 17-year-old displayed a prodigious talent on his way to a silver medal in Athens. Yesterday he promised fans in his home town of Bolton he would go one better next time by winning gold in 2008.

His pledge will dismay boxing promoters who hoped the youngster would turn professional on his 18th birthday.

About 500 people gathered outside Bolton town hall, where Khan was guest of honour at a civic reception. Earlier he toured the town in an open-top bus.

Khan paid tribute to his coach and mentor, Mick Jelley, before thanking the crowd for turning out. "It is brilliant to see all the Boltonians supporting me here," he said.

The world junior champion said he was determined to keep his feet on the ground. He is due to return to Bolton College for the second year of a course in a few weeks and will not return to regular training for about two months.

Mr Jelley said amateur boxing must pay up or lose him. "I don't think Amir is going to turn pro - but the powers that be have got to make it viable. If you are offered £10 a week or £10,000, which would you take?"