Believing that his faith goes glove-in-glove with his sport, British boxing Muslim champ Amir Khan has been observing Ramadan fasting while preparing for his dream game against undefeated world champion.
“The training has changed big time”, the 28-year-old told BBC.
“After fasting all day I eat late in the evening, go to mosque for my prayers and then hit the gym at midnight to train for about an hour.
“It’s extremely tough but the motivation for me is that my opponents are sleeping whilst Amir Khan is training. It’s not really something a sportsman should be doing but that’s the sacrifices you have to make when you’re a Muslim,” he added.
Khan became the WBA World light-welterweight champion on 18 July 2009, becoming Britain’s third-youngest world champion after Naseem Hamed and Herbie Hide.
The former Commonwealth lightweight champion also previously held the WBO Inter-Continental lightweight and WBA International lightweight championships.
Khan was also awarded a lightweight silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
As a devout Muslim, Khan observes Ramadan fasting from dusk to dawn.
Former light welterweight world champion Khan usually eats five meals a day, but during Ramadan he reduces that to only two.
“I miss my morning cup of tea and my desserts when I’m fasting,” he laughs, before explaining what it’s like when he can finally tuck in.
“Sometimes there’s so much food in front of you and you think ‘I just want to get stuck in’ but that’s the challenge – you have to make sure you eat healthily but it’s very hard – I sometimes like to slide away and have a kebab or a samosa – it’s not easy!
“I’m a normal guy at the end of the day – but I make up for it when I go back into the training camp.”
Anticipating the much-awaited game against undefeated triple welterweight world champion Floyd Mayweather in September, Khan is confident that the holy month would not affect his chances.
“Ramadan ends on 17 or 18 July – that gives me enough time to finish Ramadan and then go into hard training. I’m very confident, I think that fight could definitely happen – I’m just waiting for that phone call,” he said.
“If I get the big fight with Floyd Mayweather, I’ll be more than ready for it. Ramadan is not going to make a difference!”
Rugby union sports nutritionist Matt Lovell believes fasting could prove beneficial to Khan.
“It can be done,” he says.
“Fasting can give you mental strength and power. I can’t see Ramadan affecting Amir negatively – the six weeks between the end of Ramadan and Khan’s potential big fight with Floyd Mayweather is enough time for him to be ready.”
Boxing trainer Adam Booth, who looked after former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Danny Williams, also a devout Muslim, agreed.
“Danny used to fast during the month of Ramadan and we would change the cycle for eating, sleeping and training,” he said.
“It’s definitely 100% possible for Amir Khan to fast during Ramadan and be ready to face Mayweather in the Autumn.”
Observing fasting in the holy month since the age of eight, Khan believes that his faith is not separated from his sport.
“When I go into the boxing ring, it’s a very lonely place, when I go into the gym it’s a very quiet place. I’m on my own training, but it’s God that gives me the strength,” he said.
“My faith drives me, gives me that motivation and that push. I see a lot of people around the world, Muslims and non-Muslim who have a lot of belief in their faith. They’re the people who get far in life – if you have belief you can definitely get far.”