By Sonia Ahmed | June 18, 2019
Amir Khan is a businessman, a philanthropist, a family man, and above all, one of the most successful boxers of his time.
Amir Khan was an overactive and aggressive child. That’s why his parents had him join Bolton Lads Boxing Club to direct his energy in a positive direction.
This British Pakistani boxer’s life filled with achievements right from the beginning. But, his philanthropic streak is surprising for those who remember him for his string of driving convictions since 2007.
Khan notes: “When I began boxing, it transformed my entire life. Everything appeared to be ordinary to me in the club. I enjoyed punching things, hitting the boxing pack, and battling individuals in the boxing ring.”
Boxing turned his life around. His early victories include winning gold medals at the Junior Olympics in 2003. The next year he bagged European Student Championship, World Junior Championship, and finally became the youngest Briton to win a medal in the Athens Olympics at the age of 17.
In 2015, the University of Bolton awarded Amir Khan an honorary doctorate for his contributions to sports and charity. Next year in 2016, Manchester Metropolitan University awarded him an honorary doctor of letters for his commendable contribution for uplifting the society.
These days, Amir Khan spends about half of his time doing community work in Bolton and around the world. He helped charity organizations since the early days of his career.
He says: “I know I could go and buy anything I wanted, but I would rather do charity work now. If I have to buy something, I do three times as much charity work.”
In 2004, Khan extended his support for Indian Ocean Tsunami victims. He campaigned for child safety around British railways and bolstered White Ribbon efforts for raising awareness to end violence against women.
After the horrendous 2005 Kashmir Earthquake, Khan was there on the grounds, dispensing food, and helping rescue teams. Similarly, in 2010, Pakistan faced her worst floods in decades. It displaced 20 million people and destroyed crops and the infrastructure. Khan raised millions of pounds to facilitate schools rebuilding in flood-affected areas.
Shortly afterward, Khan collaborated with Islamic Relief for their community support activities in the country. He is “... an avid supporter of Islamic Relief’s work around the world,” and says, “it is great to have the opportunity to see their work in Pakistan in particular.”
Amir Khan visited Nowshera, Jalozai, and Banda Sheikh Ismail and extended his support for the One
Safe Village program of the Islamic Relief. This initiative provides integrated programs related to agriculture, health, education, and clean water to improve the life quality of the local people.
In 2014, Khan established his charity organization Amir Khan Foundation to support his philanthropic activities. The @AKFoundation is currently involved in two distinguished projects, Water Wells and the OrphanAid.
Water Wells Project raises funds for providing clean-water facilities in drought and poverty-stricken areas. It installed water-filtration plants and power facilities in Thar in 2016.
At the project initiation, Khan said: “I have never been to Thar, but was touched after watching a video that highlighted the miserable living conditions and abject poverty in that region, especially the shortage of drinking water resources. My foundation, with the help of organizations here (in Pakistan), intends to raise funds for the people of Thar to provide clean drinking water for them.”
Until now, the project has provided clean-water facilities in African countries, Burma, and many other poverty-stricken areas around the globe.
On the other hand, OrphanAid is funding Penny Appeal for building an orphanage in the Gambia. In June 2018, Amir Khan inaugurated ten new orphan home complexes, a school and a medical center in the Kanjibina Village, Gambia.
Amir Khan was among the few philanthropists who provided aid to Syria in partnership with Islamic Relief. His organization raised funds and helped the Syrian refugees in Greece. To ensure the supplies delivery, he flew to Greece himself and met the convoy carrying supplies for Syrian refugees he collected in Bolton.
He is unafraid of danger when he chooses to help. As a backlash for Pakistan’s action against militants in Swat, terrorists brutally killed 132 school children in the horrific 2014 APS massacre.
Despite the heightened risk, Khan visited Pakistan immediately to stand by the grieving parents and families.
“The main reason I came to Pakistan was to show the world that Pakistan is a safe place. It's a place I love coming to, and we all want to fight against terrorism,” he recalls.
Being a British Pakistani, he takes pride in his mixed heritage: “When I battle, you see Pakistanis, and you see British – they’re all combined, and they bolster Amir Khan.”
Using Sports to Lift People Up
Amir Khan Boxing Academy in Islamabad is a symbol of his honor for his roots. He hopes the game will give a sense of direction to the young boxes, as it had helped him discover his true calling.
Although Khan oversees academy operations, he’s keener on spending time with the young boxers. He gives them pro boxing tips and teaches them how to become professional boxers.
Recently, this two-time world champion launched Super Boxing League (SBL) in Pakistan in 2018. It’s the first pro boxing league coming to Pakistan, organized with the support of the World Boxing Council.
When talking about it, he said: “I don’t want it to be an international event; it is going to be mainly for Pakistani boxers as we want to promote local talent.”
Success and money often bring a lot of controversies for celebrities like Khan, but he makes sure to leverage his fame for the betterment of society.