There was an interesting article on the BBC website this morning asking why Amir Khan isn’t really loved in this country. There’s one very obvious elephant in the room when it comes to this but I think that there’s more to it than just racism. Personally, I think that there are another couple of problems that people have with Amir.
Firstly, he’s incredibly arrogant and it’s there’s one thing that we like in this country it’s to see arrogance brought back down to earth. This was exemplified by his last defeat. There was footage before the fight of him training with Freddie Roach where Amir was being warned exactly what punch to look out for. Despite specifically training it, he was still knocked out by that exact punch. Then he blamed Freddie Roach and sacked him as his trainer.
We don’t mind people losing in this country. In fact we love our comeback kings but you have to be able to lose with some contrition and Amir hasn’t proved that he can do that.
Secondly, there was the hope. When he first broke through at the Olympics, we thought that he would go on to be a proper world-class boxer and it hasn’t quite happened. In this country, we don’t mind if our sporting heroes are never going to be genuine world beaters. Look at Frank Bruno and Tim Henman, we loved them but in our heart of hearts we knew that while they were good, they were never going to be great.
We thought that Amir Khan was going to be different and at some level we’re disappointed that he hasn’t turned that potential into actual talent. There’s a definite comparison to be drawn to Lewis Hamilton, another young, arrogant sportsman who divides people in this country.
Of course sometimes there are mitigating circumstances that prevent that conversion of raw potential into actual talent. However, when combined with Amir’s arrogance, it just comes across that he’s not willing to put in the hard work required.
In brings to my mind two other sportsmen – Andy Murray and Christiano Ronaldo. In their youth they were seen as good players of their chosen sports but they also had that arrogant streak. However, they have both been willing to put in a lot of hard work and are now world-class athletes. Ronaldo may still be like Marmite due to still being so arrogant but at least he can back it up now. Look at Murray though, he’s lost finals and been contrite in defeat. He’s worked at his game, he’s worked at his attitude and now he’s almost reached national treasure status.
All of this isn’t to downplay the fact that a lot of the aggro that Amir gets is of a racist nature. Although it always confuses me as to how you could be racist towards someone from Bolton.