Former Olympic medallist and professional star Amir Khan feels India has a robust system in place to keep producing good boxers for the world stage and singled out 2017 World Championship bronze-winner Gaurav Bidhuri for Olympic glory at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The 32-year-old from Bolton, who clinched the WBC international welterweight title during a Super Boxing League (SBL) bout in Jeddah last week, believes India have the wherewithal to produce champions, who can follow the likes of Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom.
“Indian boxing is doing very good. What I like is that they have a system which not many countries have,” Amir, who had knocked out Australian Billy Dib last Saturday, told PTI during an interview.
“In India, all fighters get an opportunity to fight international tournaments, they are funded and they also get paid, because these boxers can’t get jobs as they have to focus on boxing.
“All countries should follow this system. That’s why they have Olympic medallists like Vijender and Mary Kom and many more will come from this, it will only inspire the next generation.”
Asked if India can win a medal at the 2020 Olympics, the British-born boxer said: “One kid I follow is Gaurav Bidhuri, he is a very good boxer. I like his style, I like how he fights, how he pushes himself. I have seen his videos.
“This kid will get far, if he can stay focussed. He is in the national team and he made a lot of noises, he had some good performances,” added Amir, a two-time world champion.
Bidhuri is only the fourth Indian boxer to get a medal at World Championship, claiming the bronze at the 2017 edition in Hamburg, Germany.
Speaking on other issues in boxing, Amir said it is a shame that the International Boxing Association (AIBA) was suspended last month and the International Olympic Committee took over the qualification and competition for the Tokyo Olympics.
“It is crazy what is happening in boxing. IOC has taken full control and AIBA has been stripped off. I fought under AIBA rules and it was fine when I was around, but is just a shame, you know they are not giving opportunities to young fighters,” he said.
“AIBA needs to be there and so they need to set up a proper committee and work hand-in-hand. It is the only way boxing will work. Without amateur boxing, I won’t be here, so I know how much amateur boxing means. Champion boxers like Mike Tyson, all of them started from amateur. So without AIBA it is going to be difficult.”
Amir said he is planning to open super boxing gyms in India and Pakistan next year.
“I would like to help these boxers in any way I can. My foundation is helping less fortunate people around the world. I do work in Africa, Gambia, I worked with Shilpa Shetty in India. We focus on children, building orphanage, education, health, school, hospitals,” he said. “I would love to open an academy in India. But we will start a super boxing gyms in India to start with. Now the focus is on Saudi Arabia, so next year definitely will start in India and Pakistan.” PTI