by Sean Crose
British welterweight Amir Khan has made the journey to his ancestral homeland of Pakistan to give aid to those who suffered horribly when the Taliban killed 132 school children just days ago. The fact that Khan, himself a devout Muslim, is going out of his way to help the victims of – as well as to publicly speak out against – Islamic extremism is notable.
Indeed, one could easily see how the man could have taken the easy way out. He’s popular in the western world, after all. He’s also undoubtedly got a bit of money in his bank account. Add that to the fact that he has a likeable personality and one can easily see that the guy could taken a free ride on such issues.
That is not in Amir Khan’s nature, however.
According to CNN, Khan described the terrorist attack, which took place in the community of Preshawar, as “absolutely horrific and sickening.”
Landing in Pakistan on Wednesday, Khan intends to do his part in resurrecting the school where the young victims were killed at the hands of the Taliban. He’s also auctioning off the lavish trunks he wore during this month’s impressive ring performance against Devon Alexander and giving the proceeds to help in the effort.
Khan described Pakistan to the media as a “place I love coming to.” Yet he made it clear he hasn’t traveled there to take in the sights.
“You know,” he said, “we want to all fight against terrorism.”
It’s telling that, in an era where some publicly worry about “backlashes” against Muslims, the most famous Muslim boxer this side of Muhammad Ali has decided to focus on those Muslims who engage in terrorists acts.
“Talking about this stuff could be threatening for me,” he admitted before his trip.
Yet he made the trip anyway.
“After recently becoming a father myself,” Khan said after arriving, “I can’t imagine how the families of these innocent children are feeling.”
Khan has been making an impact the ring lately, as well as outside of it. After spending 2013 largely acting like a forlorn character out of Waiting For Godot, Khan was spurned again and again as he publicly made clear his intention to fight Floyd Mayweather.
That fight obviously didn’t happen. Khan came back in full force, however, beating Luis Collazo in May, before engaging in a tour de force against Alexander less than two weeks ago. Now many of the fickle who saw Khan as a joke earlier in the year are marveling at his speed and skill.
There are even those who are saying he’s got the goods to beat both Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Such things are probably in the back of Khan’s mind at the moment. His schedule in Pakistan will most likely be loaded. He’s also, make no mistake about it, in harm’s way. There’s little doubt certain terrorists would love to show the world what happens when famous Muslims speak out against their tactics.
Yet Khan, the famous and popular fighter, intends to soldier on.
In this, it’s hard to argue that he isn’t a credit to his faith – and to his sport. In an age where far too many pro fighters betray an image of excess and narcissism, it’s frankly nice to see guys like Khan and Vitali Klitschko – who gave up his heavyweight title to become Mayor of Kiev, helping his fellow Ukranians endure the whims of Russian strong man Vladimir Putin – step out and risk it all for something like personal belief.
Khan may not have defeated the Mayweather and Pacquiao (at least not yet), but he’s certainly leaving his mark, both in the ring and out. It’s a far cry from a year ago.
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