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Amir Khan's father Shah rejects son's bigotry claim

Amir Khan
Khan has won 21 of his 22 professional fights

Amir Khan's father has refuted his son's claims racism has prevented him from becoming a "superstar" in Britain.

Khan defends his WBA light-welterweight belt for the first time against Dmitriy Salita in Newcastle on Saturday.

But the 22-year-old insisted he has suffered from racial bigotry and said: "If I were a white English fighter maybe I'd have been a superstar."

However, Amir's father Shah told BBC Radio 5 live: "I don't agree with it. I don't know why he made those comments."

Khan has been booed in each of his three fights since being knocked out after just 54 seconds by Breidis Prescott last year - the only blemish on his 22-fight record.

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He relocated to California to join Freddie Roach's stable following that defeat and bounced back in style, defeating legendary Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera before claiming Andreas Kotelnik's WBA belt in July.

But since then the Bolton-born Muslim has faced jeers by a small, but vocal, minority - most recently at an appearance as a guest at the recent Prizefighter tournament at London's ExCel Arena, which Khan put down to racial prejudice.

"It's probably jealousy but I can only say skin colour does make a difference," he said.

"If I were a white English fighter maybe I'd have been a superstar in Britain.

"I never get racist remarks but it's always out there which you can't stop. You just live and learn about what people are like. I just choose to ignore them.

"I went to the Olympic Games and won a medal for Britain and then won a world title for Britain but sometimes you don't see the appreciation.

"Straight after the Prescott fight, people said I was finished and racial remarks were made. But it made me come back stronger and a better fighter.

I'm proud to be British and it's a very small minority but it does hurt you and it pushes you all the way

Amir Khan

"I'm proud to be British and it's a very small minority but it does hurt you and it pushes you all the way."

Khan's furious promoter Frank Warren, meanwhile, has criticised the media, accusing them of "playing on his naivety" in the pursuit of headlines.

"I'm really disappointed that people keep asking Amir these questions. We've managed to keep race and religion out of this fight and I find it offensive and sad," he said.

"People don't ask David Haye what it's like to be black. They don't ask Catholic fighters about the problems in Northern Ireland. When James Degale got booed, they didn't put it down to racism.

"Amir is 22 and perhaps they are playing on his naivety. It must play on Amir's mind - why are people asking me this all the time? It's totally unfair on Amir, and it is very disappointing."

Shah Khan believes his son is generally seen in a positive light and added: "I think the attention he gets now at this stage of his career is incredible.

"I think he is known all round not just in England but round the world.

"I think he is almost there anyway. He has got a long way to go yet and he is still young, he is only 22."

see also
Ruthless Khan demolishes Salita
05 Dec 09 |  Boxing
Khan set for Salita title defence
28 Sep 09 |  Boxing
Khan v Salita photos
06 Dec 09 |  Boxing
Khan would fight 'friend' Hatton
19 Jul 09 |  Boxing
Khan rules out Pacquiao meeting
19 Nov 09 |  Boxing
Gavin after title shot with Khan
24 Jul 09 |  Boxing
Emphatic Khan claims world title
18 Jul 09 |  Boxing
Roach angry at Khan fight delay
18 Jun 09 |  Boxing
Khan set for title fight in 2009
15 Mar 09 |  Boxing
Bloodied Barrera beaten by Khan
15 Mar 09 |  Boxing
Khan knocked out in first round
06 Sep 08 |  Boxing

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