Boxing champion Amir Khan has his roots in Pakistan and his heart in the right place. As he gets candid about his boxing strategies and his comments on Vijender, he also feels a strong connection to India and has no qualms saying it out loud.
Amir has been to India only once, but his roots -- from the Punjabi Rajput community in Agra -- make him feel connected to the country. Though he was born in the UK, he’s a Pakistani through and through.
“ Someone from India once said to me, ‘You are from England and you’re Pakistani, but we in India love you like you’re one of our own fighters.’ This was really nice, coming from an Indian.”
“I think this whole India-and-Pakistan-don’t-get-along thing is nonsense. I believe someone like me can break the negativity, since I have so many fans in India. I didn’t even know people in India knew me so well,” says Amir. “You’ll find many shrines belonging to Indians in places such as Lahore. After all, both countries were one before Independence. We should try to unite instead of fighting each other. People in Pakistan love Bollywood and people in India love Pakistani cricket and TV dramas. It’s a matter of expression.”
Amir visited India for Harbhajan Singh’s wedding in 2015. “People in India are genuinely nice, they gave me so much time and I loved it here. I visited Ajmer Sharif, met Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, and was amazed by my fan following,” he says. “Someone from India once said to me, ‘You are from England and you’re Pakistani, but we in India love you like you’re one of our own fighters.’ This was really nice, coming from an Indian.”
Though Amir was born in the UK, his parents were born in Pakistan and he hates the image Pakistan has in the world. “With all the bombings and so on, Pakistan is going through a tough time,” he says. “I want to give a clean message about Pakistan. I want to be a role model, a representative of the country. People should look at me and remember Pakistan. I want to be the world champion for them. I want people to see Pakistanis and Muslims as good people.”
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From HT Brunch, April 16, 2017
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