We interviewed Amir Khan at Repton Boxing Club in London’s East End, the location of our latest campaign shoot with the man himself.
Read on to get to know the man behind the gloves…
Q: What is it that you enjoy most about boxing and training?
A: “It keeps you fit, keeps you off the street and out of trouble. In my opinion, it teaches the best discipline and keeps you in order. For most kids involved in boxing, it keeps them behaving.
I do a lot of work with kids in Bolton. I’ve got a gym there and we get around 50,000 kids coming in every year, which is a huge number! That’s 50,000 kids keeping out of trouble and diverting their energy into something positive.
Q: Have you got a favourite sport aside from boxing?
A: Definitely football! I mean, I like football but I can’t kick a ball straight to be honest with you, so I just watch it instead.
Q: Is there any sport that you can’t stand watching?
A: Cricket sometimes – the long games especially! The test matches can get a little bit boring. I mean, the 20:20 is fine, but the long ones just drag a bit a really.
Q: What is it that keeps you motivated?
A: Knowing that I’ve got a tough fight coming up, and having to train hard for it. To get your arm lifted at the end of a fight, and be told that you you’re the champion is the best feeling ever. That’s what motivates me to do more. Plus, I’ve got a brilliant fan base who are very supportive – they just inspire me to get down the gym, work harder, win more fights and make better TV viewing for them.
Q: Have you got an ultimate training song?
A: I think the ultimate training song for everyone has to be a Rocky song! Everywhere I go they seem to play the Rocky theme tune so it’s kind of grown on me now.
Q: Who is the hardest puncher you’ve been in the ring with?
A: The hardest puncher I’ve been in the ring with is Marcos Maidana – he had a 90% knockout and when he caught me in the tenth round he did really hurt me, but I took his shot. You don’t want to be taking too many of them though!
Q: Who is the best boxer you’ve ever faced?
A: The best boxer I’ve ever faced is Mario Kinderlin, he’s Cuban and a double Olympic champion – very technical, very skilful, and he beat me in the Olympic finals when I was 17 (he was 32 at the time). He’s retired now – thank god for that.
Q: You train with Manny Pacquiao – where does he rank in terms of all time greatest fighters?
A: Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest fighters ever. Being an eight time world champion at different weights is an amazing achievement. We train together, we spa together and I’ll be going to the Philippines soon to train with him over there. He’s very down to earth, he’s a nice guy and he inspires me a lot. I can learn so much from him by training beside him.
Q: What is the most important thing that Freddie Roach has taught you?
A: The most important thing he has taught me is to listen. There are times when you’re nervous, and you get a bit excited, and the game plan goes out of your mind, so Freddie tells me to listen to him and stick to what he tells me to do. I’ve done that for the last few fights and it’s worked for me – I’ve won, and it’s made the fight a lot easier as well. Listening to Freddie always makes a fight easy.
Q: If you could change one rule in boxing to make it better then what would it be?
A: One rule I’d change in boxing if I could, would be for people to be fairer. They need to be a little more serious on the scoring, reffing and judging because I think it can put a lot of fighters and people off boxing. I’ve seen a lot of amateur boxers who have been scored badly in a fight that they should have won. I’d have more officials watching the judging, people who are fair and neutral.
Q: Who in your eyes is an up and coming champion?
A: I would have to say my brother to be honest with you! We train together and he’s getting stronger now he’s 21, and he’s always asking me to spa with him. Before when we used to spa, he used to take shots and I used to think I could take them, but now as he’s getting older, he is hitting a lot harder so I try to avoid sparing with him. In the next couple of years I think he can definitely achieve big things in boxing, even Freddie thinks he could become a world champion. I think he can do it if he trains hard enough and stays focused.
Q: So we hear you’re becoming a bit of a regular at London Fashion Week. Does being stylish come easily to you or do you have to work at it?
A: Yeah, I love my fashion! I love being at London Fashion Week, and it’s good to see new brands and new styles coming through. I like dressing smartly – not many boxers like to dress up and be smart but I’m a little bit different. I always like to be well presented when I go into a press conference.
Q: And are you influenced by catwalk/fashion trends and designers?
A: Yeah definitely, when I go to London Fashion Week to the catwalk shows I like to see stuff that I wouldn’t normally put together – when you see how the designers put everything together, the different styles, different colours, I think wow, I didn’t know that that would go so well! It gives me a bit more knowledge about fashion, makes me understand it a bit more, how you put clothes together.
Q: We saw you looking very dapper in your recent shoot for Esquire and looking sharp on Jonathan Ross. Are you excited about the Burton shoot today, and is it something that comes as second nature to you now doing all the photo shoots and interviews?
A: Yeah I like to go on the shows and dress smartly. I don’t want people to see boxers as being rough and tough. The Burton shoot has gone amazingly well and it’s great to be partnering with you guys. It’s such a great British brand and it’s good to be working with you. I like to wear British brands and labels, and I love the style that Burton brings to the table – the suits, as well as the things I can wear casually and feel comfortable in.
Q: Is that what Burton means to you then, Great British Style?
A: Yeah definitely – Great British Style, that’s what Burton brings to the table. Since we’ve been working together it’s been brilliant because I wear things now that maybe I might not have worn before. Now though, I wear them and I feel so comfortable in them – it’s totally changed my image.
Q: Do you have any ‘must-haves’ from Burton’s Spring/Summer ’12 Collection or anything that you are wearing today that you particularly like?
A: I really like the suits that I’ve worn today. I wore a cool grey suit, which I’d never tried before – it looked really nice and fitted really well. It was a three-piece – I love that. I also liked the darker suit three-piece-suit that I wore today. Also, the chinos – you just can’t beat them. I don’t like wearing baggy jeans, but chinos are nice and fitted and they go well with pretty much anything.
Q: What is it that you might look for when buying a suit?
A: When I buy a suit I normally look for a colour that will look great on me – that’s the first thing, and secondly the cut. The cut has to be perfect. It has to be fitted well – you want the shoulders to be just right, the length perfect – not too shapeless. Also don’t forget the shirt – the shirt has to be pressed well!
Q: Is there anything that you will always wear with a suit, whether it’s a pocket-square or a skinny tie or some other finishing touch?
A: Whenever I do an event I like to wear a tie, I think it’s just the cherry on the cake and finishes off your look really well. Sometimes you can look a bit casual, too casual, when you wear a suit with a shirt open at the collar, and the buttons undone, but when you wear a tie it just looks smarter.
Q: You said in a recent interview that ‘by 28 you’ll have done everything you want to do in boxing so you can sit back, chill and get fat.’ What do you do with your time off and what would you be doing if you hadn’t been a boxer?
A: I always said that I would be retired by 28 and I would have achieved everything I want to, but boxing is such an addictive sport that when I’m 28 I still might want to do more, like move up different weight categories and fight for new titles. There might be new challenges coming up, so who knows? I’ve always said that I want to walk out of the sport the way I walked in, so I’m just going to see how that goes.
If I wasn’t a boxer I’d probably have a normal 9 to 5 job. I don’t know what I’d be doing, to be honest with you, because I relied on boxing growing up and put all my energy into the sport. I did go to college and qualify in Sports Development & Nutrition so I probably would have been involved in sports, one way or another but I’ve got the best job ever – I get paid to do my hobby!
Outside of boxing I just like to relax and chill. I keep saying that I am going to get fat but one thing about me is that when I look in the mirror, and I’m losing my six pack, I instantly want to get back in the gym. I’ve already started back in the gym now, even though I’m not due to be back training for another two weeks, but I’ve started early because I was getting a little bit of a belly! I don’t think I’ll ever get fat though, I think it’s one of those things that mentally you need to always be in good shape.”
Want to see Amir in action at the shoot? Watch our Exclusive full-length Behind the Scenes Video.