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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Khan launches unsung hero award
By Frank Keogh

Coach Gerry Jones with boxer Amir Khan
Coach Gerry Jones is reunited with boxer Amir Khan
Boxer Amir Khan was reunited with his schoolboy coach as he launched the BBC's 2007 Sports Unsung Hero awards.

A total of 15 regional winners, who help their community as volunteers, will be chosen from nominations.

The overall winner will be announced during the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show on 9 December.

"This award is so important because the people behind the scenes are the people who should be getting the recognition," said the 20-year-old Bolton fighter.

The Olympic silver medallist met up again with his own unsung hero, 75-year-old Gerry Jones, as he threw his weight behind the awards.

When Khan was aged just nine, Jones gave up his own time and opened the local gym at weekends to show the promising youngster the ropes.

"I give him a lot of credit. Look where I am now and I have to say thanks to Gerry because he was one of the guys who brought me on so much, to where I am now," said the Commonwealth lightweight champion.

"And no-one knows that. It's not like he's told everyone the story. He's kept it to himself.

"So I want to tell everyone, look, this is one of the guys who brought me on as a good fighter and who supported me all the way."

(PDF file 176 KB)

The BBC's Sports Unsung Hero, supported by Robinsons, is designed to pay tribute to those who help others to take part in sport.

Bursaries of up to 2,500 are available to winners of each regional award, to help them with their work in sport.

You can nominate your own unsung hero by filling in the form on this page. (Users of the BBC mobile service will not see this form)

Now in its fifth year, it features people of all ages and from all walks of life involved in the running of sport at any level on a purely voluntary basis, without any financial reward. They are there for the love of it.

They roll the pitch, coach the juniors, run local sports leagues or work behind the scenes so that sport can be played and enjoyed throughout the UK.

Previous winners have included a volunteer who quit his job to set up an inner city basketball league, a woman working on the Special Olympics, and a man who helped build a much-needed local swimming pool.

The 2006 Unsung Hero Val Hanover receives her trophy from Alan Shearer and Owen Hargreaves
2006 Val Hanover - Shropshire, Special Olympics
2005 Trevor Collins - Isle of Wight, Swimming coach
2004 Abdullah Ben-Kmayal - Peckham, Football club founder
2003 Nobby Woodcock - Newport, Grassroots football

An awards ambassador will represent each of the BBC regions, with Khan promoting the North West scheme.

And as he nominated Jones, the boxer paid tribute to the man who helped nurture his talent.

"When Gerry was training me, he never thought I'd be going this far," said Khan.

"I was a bit of a troubled kid when I was young. Gerry kept my weight down, telling me to get on the treadmill, do a bit of running, do this, do that.

"He took me on strength and conditioning training sessions, taught me stuff, opened up the gym on Saturdays when I probably would have been in bed. "

Jones was modest as he learned of his nomination by Khan at the boxer's Bolton gym, which is due to open in September.

"I'm pleased, but Amir deserves all the glory. He trains hard, he boxes hard, he does what he trained for," he said.

"I was at Bolton Lads Club on a Monday night when he walked in with his dad, and he said: 'Can I come and you look after me?'

"I said certainly and put him on the punch bag and I held it, and I told him what punches to throw and every punch he threw was correct."

Unbeaten in 13 bouts since turning professional after the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Khan had to bounce back from being knocked down by Scot Willie Limond in his last fight.

Khan next faces Scott Lawton at the Nottingham Arena on 6 October.

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14 Jun 07 |  Sports Personality
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