by Ralph Warner (@SoloWarnerBro)
Wild’n Cuz He’s Young
A room full of men beating the hell out of each other hardly seems like the place for a young boy to learn to become more relaxed and disciplined. Then again, being in a room with people who can kill you with their fists is also a great way to “whip” a boy into shape. But for 8-year-old Amir Khan, the pitter-patter of men hitting speed and body bags and the yelling of trainers all in a facility where blood, sweat and tears are literally shed on a regular basis was the perfect place to straighten out his behavioral problems.
“I was hyperactive when I was young. I always used to get in trouble at school and misbehave at home so my dad took me to a gym around the corner from where I lived,” says the world’s top ranked light welterweight champion as he rests up from a routine he’s become all too familiar with.
I was a tough kid, I got into street fights pretty often and was never really scared of anything.
Khan credits the boxing gym with giving him a place to let out aggression and fight in the ring, rather than the streets, as he often did before picking up the sport. “I was a tough kid, I got into street fights pretty often and was never really scared of anything. But I can honestly say that once I began boxing, I never fought in the streets again. I began behaving at home, school teachers saw the difference in me, I was a totally different kid.”
That gym in Bolton, England, would not only serve as a better therapy session than any number of trips to the psychiatrist or Ritalin prescriptions, it was also an opportunity to recognize a God-given talent. “It was brilliant. It felt so comfortable for me to step in the ring and to be training. I loved every minute of it. I was about eight or nine then, and I was one of the youngest but I was probably one of the hardest workers.”
About 16 years and 5,000 miles later, Khan continues the process he became familiar with as a boy but this time it’s in Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood. He’s not battering body bags and sparring partners in an effort to relieve frustration and work on his discipline, this time he’s doing it for a shot to become one of boxing’s household names. An impressive win in his December 10th bout with Lamont Peterson can solidify his reputation as the world’s best light welterweight fighter and lead to a move up to the welterweight class in 2012. The thought of fighting in a weight class where Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have become super stars despite boxing’s faltering popularity over the last few years would have any fighter salivating. Especially one who’s yet to taste stardom in the U.S.