News November 2017

King vs Jungle Livefight reviews Amir Khan’s time so far on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity


By Michael J Jones

AFTER A QUIET year or so in his boxing career it was a mild surprise to see boxing star Amir Khan enter the Australian jungle in the latest edition of ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity….Get me out of here’. The annual series began last Sunday with Khan introduced to his fellow celebrities who, as per usual, were a mixture of actual celebrities and a few people nobody has ever heard of.

The 30 year old Khan, a former three-weight boxing champion, baffled viewers in the opening show when he revealed he had never watched the show and didn’t really know what it largely consisted of. The comments have since been heavily derided by the press after a tweet by Khan surfaced from a few years ago.

When questioned at that time about possibly entering the hugely-popular show, Khan (or possibly a representative or relative) tweeted the show was for “has-beens’. It’s very questionable whether it is possible for a 30 year old man who mixes regularly with other celebrities and fellow boxers can be completely ignorant of a massively successful show which has been shown on prime-time UK television for fifteen years.

Whatever, Khan’s first challenge as a contestant came in the form of a death-defying plank walk of a sky-scraper. Buddied up with ‘The Saturday’s’ vocalist Vanessa White, both performed the frightening task with merit apart from some wobbly foot-work from a man who usually requires stellar balance in his chosen profession.

At the end of Sunday’s show, “King” Khan was revealed by long-time hosts ‘Ant and Dec’ as the first celeb’ to be tasked with completing the first ‘Bushtucker trial’. It set up the opening of Monday night’s episode which started with Khan attempting his task alongside ‘Made in Chelsea’ star Georgia Toffolo.

While the petite “Toff” was placed in a shallow grave to have various bugs and creepy-crawlies dumped all over her, the boxing star had to work his way through narrow tunnels to find star keys which meant food meals for his camp members.

After a spluttering start, Khan, who holds career victories over boxing legends Marco Antonio Barrera and Marcus Maidana, looked to be getting a foot-hold in the task while scooping up the first few keys. The problem began when he was tasked with putting his arm in a blind hole to feel around for the next key while having no clue what was in the boxed area.

As poor Amir, prompted repeatedly by Ant and Dec and also the terrified Toffolo, reached into the hole he thought he’d found a key but it was actually a small snake….the error only being discovered with the leg-less reptile mere inches from the boxer’s face.

Khan, who had previously admitted a fear of snakes, gave it legs and immediately repeated the famous show words leaving his co-challenger, not to mention the show presenters and the British TV viewers, stunned.

To add salt to the, very public, gaff, a picture then emerged online of Khan standing next to an exotic dancer who was holding a large yellow snake with no apparent alarm evidenced on the Bolton star’s face.

The boxer’s representatives, and bizarrely even the lady dancer in the picture, rushed to Khan’s defence to say the fear of snakes was genuine as it appears the old Khan haters will leap at anything the former Olympian says or does in his time in the jungle.

The humiliated boxer had, at least, the chance to move on from his first ‘Bushtucker Trial’ when the amusingly-predictable viewers voted him straight in to try the second challenge labelled ‘Flushed Out.’

After clearly feeling disappointed with his first trial and getting much prep’ talk from his fellow campers, Khan eased to complete the challenge but couldn’t help getting yet more negative press.

The task involved moving through a tall tank of water, undoing man-lids with a small spanner while the tank fills with water. Khan was forced to act fast while dealing with a variety of jungle nasties including eels and crocodiles.

Critics instead focused on the fighter’s error after the task when he incorrectly commented to camp members that he had to deal with more snakes. Obviously getting confused with the eels he encountered, one can surely forgive the Bolton boxer his blip.

As the show moved on to Wednesday evening, Khan was finally spared a fourth successive challenge as Toffolo and footballer’s wife Rebekah Vardy were nominated for the grotesque ‘Worst Date’ eating challenge.

As the girls merrily chowed down on spiders and bulls penis, Khan took on a more light-hearted role in the episode. He was shown working out with other contestants such as former Hollyoaks actor Jamie Lomas and Coronation Street’s Jennie McAlpine. Khan, who looks a little over his best fighting weight at approximately 180lbs, completed some basic floor exercises and also did some light jogging.

Looking up Khan’s record online for the first time in a while, this writer was surprised that Khan hasn’t boxed for some eighteen months and hasn’t won a boxing match for two-and-a half years. Even more unbelievable, Khan hasn’t boxed in the UK for over four whole years.

His record stands at 31-4 (19) and he was last a title holder two years ago when a WBC Silver champion who for a long time had his sights on American legend Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Back to the show, and Khan alongside Lomas and football star Dennis Wise took the ‘camp-mates’ tag to a new meaning. The camp features a bath which only has a hot water feed if a seesaw is pumped by two people. So Lomas, who played Warren Fox on Hollyoaks, duly soaped himself in the tub while the topless pair of Khan and Wise played on the seesaw with child-like relish.

“This is the stuff of dreams” quipped the grinning Lomas (who incidentally is a fight fan and best pals with Carl Frampton trainer Jamie Moore).

Amir was given one of the dreaded ‘conversation topics’ later on the show with Stanley Johnson and Vanessa White. He commentated on his rise to fame at the 2004 Athens Olympics before (hilariously) asking Johnson about his involvement with Oxford and Cambridge (as all boxers are keen to know).

The convo’ points fill the gaps away from the trials, meals etc but they often come across as forced and unnatural and never more evident than last night with the herky-jerky exchange between professional boxer and former politician and journalist Johnson.

As it stands, Amir Khan is around 10/1 to be crowned the King of the jungle with the favourite overall Georgia Toffolo at 7/4. The odds can often be way off with the actuality of the show but Khan began his time on ‘IACGMOOH’ at a whopping 16/1 so perhaps his better performance in the second challenge alongside his blossoming ‘bromance’ with Lomas and co are keeping him in good stead.

For the record, Khan’s last fight was in May 2016 in Las Vegas where he leaped two weight divisions to take on Mexican Saul Alvarez for the WBC middleweight title. Khan was boxing well when knocked out in the sixth by a booming right-hand.

There has been much speculation regarding his ring return and at what weight he will continue his career in but, as yet, nothing has been confirmed. A bout against Sheffield’s former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook has often been mooted though it’s always appeared Khan has no real interest in the fight.

Livefight is enjoying this series and will take another look at the progress of Amir Khan next week.

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