He previously boxed in the lightweight division, where he held the Commonwealth, WBO Inter-Continental, and WBA International titles.
Khan is the youngest British Olympic boxing medalist, winning silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics at the age of 17. He is also one of the youngest British world champions ever, winning the WBA Light Welterweight title at age 22.
Khan was born and raised in Bolton, England, in a British Pakistani family. He was educated at Smithills School in Bolton, and Bolton Community College. Khan has two sisters and one brother, Haroon “Harry” Khan, who is an undefeated Professional boxer. His first cousin is the English cricketer Sajid Mahmood.
Khan is a practising Muslim, and is an active supporter of the Muslim Writer’s Awards. In addition to boxing, he enjoys playing sports such as cricket, football and basketball. He is also a fan of his local football club, Bolton Wanderers, and uses the club’s training facilities.
Additionally, Khan is involved in various philanthropic initiatives, including the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), National Literacy Trust, and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
On 29 January 2012, Khan got engaged to New York student Faryal Makhdoom, at the Reebok Stadium. A thousand friends and family were in attendance, including Ricky Hatton the couple are set to marry in May 2013 at Astoria Waldorf Hotel.
Khan began to box competitively at the age of 11, with early honours including three English school titles, three junior ABA titles, and gold at the 2003 Junior Olympics. In early 2004 he won a gold medal at the European Student Championships in Lithuania, and in South Korea several months later he won world junior lightweight title after fighting five times in seven days. One of his notable early amateur fights was against Victor Ortíz, whom he defeated in a second round stoppage.
Khan qualified for the 2004 Summer Olympics by finishing in first place at the 1st AIBA European 2004 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. He was Britain’s sole representative inboxing at the Athens Games, winning a silver medal at the age of 17 in the lightweight boxing category. He was Britain’s youngest Olympic boxer since Colin Jones in 1976. He lost in the final toMario Kindelan, the Cuban who had also beaten him several months earlier in the pre-Olympic match-ups in Greece. In 2005 he avenged the two losses by beating the 34-year-old Kindelan in his last amateur fight.
- 2003 – Won a gold medal at the AAU Junior Olympic Games.
- 2004 – Won a gold medal at the European Student Championships and the World Junior Championships.
- 2004 – Won the Strandja Cup to qualify for the Olympics in Athens
- 2004 – Won an amateur match against Victor Ortíz, who was stopped in the second round.
- 2004 – Won a silver medal at the Olympics, beating Marios Kaperonis, Dimitar Stilianov, Jong Sub Baik and Serik Yeleuov. He lost to Mario Kindelan in the final.
- 2005 – Beat Craig Watson on points in the ABA Championships.
- 2005 – Won the last match of his amateur career beating Mario Kindelan 19–13 at the Reebok Stadium.
On 2 February 2008, Khan was scheduled to fight Martin Kristjansen, but illness forced the Dane to withdraw and instead Khan beat Australian Gary St Clair in a contest for the Commonwealth lightweight title at the ExCel Arena in London. This was his first fight to last all 12 rounds and was won via a unanimous 120–108 scoring from all three ringside judges.
On 5 April 2008, Khan beat Kristjansen in the seventh round of a WBO lightweight Title Eliminator. Before the contest, the fighters had been ranked third and fourth respectively by the WBO. After Khan’s victory, he was ranked second, behind only Joel Casamayor.
Following the fight, Khan split from his trainer Oliver Harrison, the trainer for all of his previous 17 professional contests. The break-up was blamed on Harrison’s concerns that Khan’s public engagements were interfering with his fight preparations. Khan’s spokesman told reporters there was “nothing personal” between Khan and Harrison. Dean Powell, who has trained former world champions Duke McKenzie and Lloyd Honeyghan, worked with Khan until a decision on a permanent trainer was made. In the same month, Khan had a training session in Las Vegas withRoger Mayweather, trainer and uncle of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Khan fought on 21 June 2008, at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham against Irishman Michael Gomez. Gomez, a super featherweight champion who was reaching the end of his career and had lost the last one of his six fights, was described as a “backward step” in Khan’s quest for a world title. Khan stated “I think I’m above this level now” and made it clear that he expected a fast and explosive finish to the fight knocking down Gomez two times in the fight and a great finish. However, after the fight, Khan said he felt he had moved up a level by “fighting a good fighters like Gomez”. Khan received criticism for being knocked down in the second round, but proved his resilience by coming back stronger after this. Former boxing champion Barry McGuiganseemed unimpressed after the fight and said Khan needed at least two more fights before he should consider a world title bout. Many journalists[who?] echoed McGuigan’s opinion of Khan’s needs to work on his defence.
A month after the Gomez fight, it was announced that Jorge Rubio would become Khan’s new trainer. Rubio was chosen because Khan thought that he had very good chemistry with the Cuban trainer. Khan said, “Rubio was showing me all these new training techniques, and I felt so comfortable because it suited my style. I knew I had the hand speed and the footwork to do it and I knew it was going to make me a much better fighter”. Many boxing experts thought that Rubio needed to concentrate on improving Khan’s defence, especially in keeping a high guard, and Khan’s father agreed that he was showing great defensive skills during his training.
In early August, the lightweight Breidis Prescott was chosen by Rubio as Khan’s next opponent. Rubio had trained a fighter who had narrowly lost to Prescott before and thought that Khan would be able to handle the bigger Prescott, who had a prolific knock-out record of 17 KOs in 19 contests. On 6 September 2008, Khan was a huge favourite and was hoping to win a world title by the end of the year. Prescott came out fast in the fight and landed some good shots; a stiff jab that slightly buckled Khan’s knees foreshadowed what was to come. Prescott landed a left hook that jabbed Khan’s temple; turning his legs into jelly. Instead of holding, Khan tried to punch back, and ate a left hook, right hook combo from Prescott sent him crashing to the canvas. He managed to get to his feet, but was stumbling about badly. Prescott ended it for good with another left that put Khan down again. This time, he was unable to get up. It was officially over in 54 seconds. The fight was at the Manchester Evening News Arena on Khan’s Sky Box Office debut.
Following his defeat to Prescott, Frank Warren sacked Khan’s trainer Jorge Rubio and replaced him with Freddie Roach. Khan began training with Roach in the United States, where he sparred with then WBC lightweight champion and pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao, who is also being trained by Roach. On 6 December 2008, Khan recorded a comeback win against Oisin Fagan in a second-round stoppage. With victory, Khan won the vacant WBA International lightweight title. Khan knocked Fagan down twice in the first round and Fagan’s corner threw in the towel in the second, after being knocked down again.
Khan vs. Barrera
In early 2009, it was announced that Khan would fight former seven-time and three-weight world champion Marco Antonio Barrera on 14 March, at the Manchester Evening News Arena. Frank Warren promoted Khan’s fight against the veteran Barrera, perhaps Khan’s highest-profile opponent to date. Barrera was ranked No. 1 and Khan No. 5 in the WBO world lightweight rankings. Previous IBF and WBO lightweight title holder Nate Campbell was stripped of the belts after moving up to the light welterweight division and Khan’s promoter Frank Warren and Barrera’s promoterDon King lobbied the WBO to elevate the Khan-Barrera fight to a world lightweight title eliminator. However, the world-title status was instead given to the fight between Juan Manuel Márquezand Juan Diaz, ranked No. 2 and No. 3 respectively by the WBO.
On 14 March 2009, at the MEN Arena in Manchester, England, Khan defeated Barrera, by a technical decision. The fight was stopped towards the end of the fifth round due to Barrera suffering a cut in the first round, which resulted from a clash of heads. With Barrera deemed in no position to fight on by the ringside doctor, the fight then went to the scorecards where Khan was ahead on all three (50–44, 50–45, 50–45). With victory, Khan defended his WBA International lightweight title and also won the vacant WBO Inter-Continental lightweight title.
Frank Warren was sufficiently impressed with Khan’s performance that he vowed to land a world title fight for him before the end of the year.
“There was a lot on his shoulders, but I always felt he could rise to the big occasion. I’d like to see him get a belt round his waist by the end of this year.”
Khan also commented on the fight, saying:
“I felt so completely easy, catching him with jabs. I felt like I was on a better level than him. The jabbing and patience – I felt so strong. You could see the difference. I had to take some shots in that match. I made some mistakes in the past and I’m not going to make them again.”
Khan vs. Kotelnik
On 18 July 2009, Khan moved up to the light welterweight division to fight Andreas Kotelnik at the MEN Arena in Manchester for the WBA light welterweight title. Khan won by a unanimous decision, 120–108, 118–111, 118–111, and became the third-youngest Briton to win a world title, at the age of 22.
Khan vs. Salita
On 6 October 2009, Frank Warren confirmed that Khan would defend his WBA light welterweight title against undefeated Ukrainian American boxer Dmitry Salita, the mandatory challenger, on 5 December, at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Due to Khan being a practising Muslim and Salita being an Orthodox Jew, the fight was hyped as a religious clash by the media, referring to it as a “battle of faiths” or “holy war“, though Khan and Salita have both denied such claims. On 5 December 2009, Khan defeated mandatory challenger Salita in 76 seconds, winning by TKO in the first round. Salita was knocked down three times, the first time after just 10 seconds into the fight. It was the first ever loss of Salita’s career.
On 17 January 2010, Khan announced he had split with British promoter Frank Warren and signed a deal with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, with Khan’s fights moving back toITV.