The curious case of Amir Khan
Since turning professional, Amir Khan has risen through the ranks and
enjoyed success both here in the UK and over in the United States,
winning world titles and fight of the year accolades.
As a professional his success is not in doubt, however I can’t help feeling that the support team that he has around him is letting him down somewhat when it comes to his PR work.
As a young boxer Amir will have grown up watching some of Britain’s most successful fighters, the likes of Prince Naseem Hamed, Chris Eubank and Ricky Hatton to name but a few. In this time he will have seen the different types of public persona that each fighter carried. From the flamboyant style of Naz and Eubank, to the down to earth, lad next door image of Ricky Hatton.
Naz and Eubank were provocative with their comments but always said them with a twinkle in their eye which let you know that things were being said for affect and to get a reaction.
The same cannot be said for Amir, as an Olympic silver medallist he was riding high on the crest of a wave as he crossed over to the professional game. With a potentially huge fan base at his fingertips Amir set out on a journey to build himself into a global superstar and win world titles along the way. To become a global superstar you have to excel inside your sport and also outside when dealing with the media as this is your window to the outside world and potential new fans.
Having personally attended Amir’s fight with Breidis Prescott I still cannot believe the crowd reaction to what played out that night. I had previously questioned Amir’s fan base so I was shocked to see the warm reception that the crowd gave him as he entered the MEN arena. What shocked me more was the reaction the crowd gave when he was stunningly knocked out in the first round. I stood in shock as I looked around the arena to see jubilant scenes with people hugging , laughing and cheering as the local lad was flattened. In my 15 or so years of attending boxing shows I have never seen anything like it. How can someone go from being so supported one minute to deserted the next?
Then came his fight with Marco Antonio Barrera, again the venue was the MEN arena and again the reaction was bizarre with the majority of support being for the Mexican born opponent rather than the local boy done good.
In subsequent fights, Amir has fought mainly in the states apart from a fight with Paul McCloskey in the UK, another fight that ended as a PR disaster with a controversial finish and Amir claiming he was on the verge of stopping the Irish man had the fight gone a couple of more rounds. In the US fights Amir has failed to shift all of the tickets with rumours of tickets being given away such was the lack of interest.
I can only put the above down to the fact that many British fight fans attend his fights to see him lose, much in the same way they did with Prince Naseem, so travelling to America in the hope that someone will lose is not that appealing. Some will say that we are in a recession and that is why the travelling Brits aren't making the same trips as they once did with Ricky Hatton. I would argue this point as the main reason people travelled to the US was to see Ricky Hatton, he was loved by the fans both diehards and casuals alike and many would have spent whatever it took to get to the US to support him.
Having met Amir on a couple of occasions I have always found him to be a friendly and courteous individual and that is why it annoys me when he spoils the public perception of him by his inability to think before he speaks when talking to the media. It is this problem that I believe has manufactured the above scenarios.
Whether Amir likes it or not he is now in a situation where he needs to watch every word he says as his comments will be put under the microscope by every journalist and every fan.
This has been most evident in his interviews since the loss to Lamont Peterson, from the minute Larry Merchant put a microphone to his mouth we have heard numerous excuses coming from Amir. First it was the referee, then it was the judges, then it was the man in the hat and most recently it was issues making the weight. What Amir has failed to mention so far is that one of the real reasons why he lost the fight was his inability to fight effectively on the inside and change his tactics half way through a fight.
Social media is also a problem when handed to sports stars / celebrities who cannot censor what they put on their posts/tweets. These communication streams have not been missed by Amir and his team. We have had semi naked pictures of the champ texted to women and we have had numerous twitter exchanges or cheap shots at opponents from both Amir and members of his team.
Most recently we had Amir tweet “Wow so it is true about Kell Brook getting dropped in sparring by Adnan Amar, Saj wasn't talking sh** for once”
This was followed by “Say what u wnt abwt my fights, but Ive never been dropped in sparring, u wear headguards n 14oz gloves and Ive sparred the best in the world”
(This is probably correct Amir but you did get dropped and stopped by a fighter that has gone on to lose 4 of his last 8 fights and you have also been dropped during several bouts against blown up super featherweights.)
A couple of days later when Amir was asked about Kell Brook’s impressive win over Matthew Hatton his reply was: “I don't know who Kell Brook is to be honest with you”
This was a petty comment and a comment that didn't go unnoticed by the casual fan, especially as when discussing future opponents last year Amir stated live on Primetime TV “If the fight is in the UK I would like to fight whoever the number one in the division is, I promise you Kell Brook will never take the fight against me, Kell Brook has fought nobody’s, you think he is gonna step in the ring with me?”
Other recent comments include "Ali lost 5 fights, you know what, Peterson is on the same level as when Ali fought the like of Frasier and Foreman, he's as tough as them" Along with older comments like “Judah has never been in the ring with someone as good as me” can all be seen by boxing fans as arrogant and disrespectful towards fighters of years gone by.
Whilst this article might be seen as a dig at Amir it is not my intention to do that, it is to highlight the fact that Amir Khan has the potential to be a huge star in the sport and some would argue he already is but if you read around the internet you will see that almost on a daily basis his fans are one by one turning off.
This I believe is in part down to the comments he makes during interviews or on twitter which are often taken by fans as being disrespectful or just plain childish.
Amir does lots of great work in his community and from what I have heard and experienced firsthand has a good relationship with his fans when he meets them face to face. It is just a shame that the PR team around him haven't given him media training, I say they haven't given him training but don't actually know this for fact. If they have then I would suggest he asks for his money back.
Amir if you are reading, please stop and think before you speak as you are a fighter that Britain wants to and should be proud of but a few stupid comments each time a microphone or mobile device is near you is damaging your public image.
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