New Delhi: British boxer Amir Khan, whose roots are in Pakistan, was overwhelmed by the love and hospitality he received during his five-day stay in India. "I never expected this kind of love and warmth," said Amir, on Tuesday, on the sidelines of an event to announce his plan to launch an academy in the capital.
"I was here for the first time and attended a couple of weddings, including that of Harbhajan Singh. I also went to Ajmer Sharif. It was an unforgettable experience. I would definitely come back again," said the boxer, who was born to a Pakistani family in England.
"India is a beautiful place. I always wanted to come here. My parents were here during the 2010 Commonwealth Games and my brother (Haroon) boxed here in Delhi. It's my first time here, and I think it's an amazing place," he added.
Amir shot into fame in 2004 when at 17, he became the youngest British boxer to win an Olympic silver medal.
"I am setting up five academies in Pakistan and they will be ready in about one year. Then once the academy in India takes off, who knows you might have bouts between boys from both sides. So there will be fights, but with a referee in between," Amir said.
Asked what he felt about the future of Indian boxing, Amir said: "I believe India can produce a Muhammad Ali. I cannot accept that with that huge population and talent that you guys have, it's not possible. "
Amir said he was impressed with Vijender Singh, who turned professional recently. The Indian made his professional debut by knocking out Britain's Sonny Whiting in Manchester last month.
"Vijender is doing really well. Obviously, the transition was going to be hard from an amateur to professional. But he has done it wonderfully. He has a great future ahead of him. We need more people like Vijender because having more people like him will promote boxing in India."