Former British Pakistani boxer Amir Khan claimed that Asians “can’t make it in boxing” because of excuses and their diets.
Khan, 35, held a farewell press conference on Monday, three days after announcing his retirement on Twitter. During the event, the former athlete commented on how several Asian boxers have turned to him as a source of inspiration after he became a trailblazer for South Asian boxers in Britain.
“They all want to try now,” he said. “It’s an amazing platform for them to see what I’ve done and that it’s possible for them to do the same and achieve what I’ve achieved. People used to say: ‘We are Muslim, we are Asian, we can’t make it in boxing. We’re not going to be picked.’”
Khan then declared that there are “no Asian footballers” since aspiring Asian athletes supposedly think, “We won’t get picked because we’re Asian.”
“I think that’s a f*cking load of bullsh*t,” Khan said. “Asians, when we can’t to a certain extent, give up. We don’t have it in us.”
He went on to proclaim that Asians “are not really meant to be fighters” and are “not supposed to be good sportsmen and women.”
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“Our diet is appalling,” he added. “It’s curries. It’s not the right diet to be a champion. If you put us against a lot of English fighters their diet is a lot better. They’re stronger than us.”
Khan rose to fame after winning silver in the lightweight division at the 2004 Athens Olympics when he was a 17-year-old amateur boxer. He went professional a year later and has 40 matches under his belt.
Khan noted that he began changing his lifestyle at a “very young” age.
“Not many Asians become sportsmen and women because we don’t have the diet,” he said. “We don’t have the dedication.”
“But if we see someone doing it, like if they’ve seen me do it, maybe that can inspire and motivate them,” he continued. “If Amir Khan has done it, being Asian and living on chapatis all his life and eating curries, we can do it. But you still have to take it easy on those things.”
Khan announced his retirement on Friday, around three months after losing to rival boxer Kell Brook after a sixth-round technical knockout at the Manchester Arena in February.
Several Twitter users soon called out Khan for his remarks.
“These quotes from Amir Khan are terrible (including the curry slander),” sports journalist Shireen Ahmed tweeted. “But in a week with so much trauma the ‘…when people bring religion or racism into something I think it’s all bollocks’ line has me livid. Major disappointment.”
“Quiet unbelievable that someone who has experienced racism in sport has opted to perpetuate harmful stereotypes here,” freelance journalist Renuka Odedra said. “Some entitlement from him to resort to the ‘they eat too much curry’ and ‘they’re using racism as an excuse’ mindset. Smh.”
“What nonsense and ridiculous generalizations about curries and Asian diets, why is this clown so full of himself,” another user said.