FC Vacates Pakistan-Origin Boxer Amir Khan's Boxing Academy In Islamabad After A Year

Boxer, PSB say they plan to clean and polish up the gymnasium, put in fresh equipment and reopen it for athletes within a month

FC Vacates Pakistan-Origin Boxer Amir Khan's Boxing Academy In Islamabad After A Year

After occupying it for over a year, Frontier Constabulary (FC) officials vacated a gymnasium and boxing academy in Islamabad. The Pakistan Sports Board had built the gymnasium, which was being run with support from the former world light-welterweight champion Pakistan-origin Briton Amir Khan.

Amir caused a stir last week after he shared a video clip of the boxing academy he helped set up in Islamabad. He claimed that the gym had been shut down after the FC allegedly took over. The shocking video showed how the gym had been turned into living quarters for FC personnel. Sleeping bags lined the gymnasium floor, while uniforms were seen hanging from the banisters and the stands.

In a video on the matter, Amir says in a mix of English, Urdu, and Punjabi that he had built a gym in Pakistan and was visiting the country to see its condition. But he has been getting hundreds of messages from children and potential boxers about the gym being shut down.

"Now look what has happened to the academy. The children all say they cannot train and they cannot box," he said, adding, "I think it's very bad. The FC are in there, and they need to go."

Along with his boxing career, Amir decided in 2013 to set up a global network of gyms, the Amir Khan Academy, that would train the next generation of boxers. He built his academies in England and Pakistan with plans to expand the network worldwide. In 2016, Amir set up his first academy in Pakistan with plans to set up further academies in major metropolises and towns, including Gwadar and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The academy was set up in Islamabad in a gymnasium near the premises of the Pakistan Sports Complex. He said that the academy in Islamabad was brand new and clean which his academy stocked with new equipment worth around $100,000, "but look at what has happened now".

"I spoke with the officials and the government [about the situation], but nothing has happened. It's been a year or a little over [since the academy was shut down and FC took over], he said. 

PSB confirms gym vacated

When contacted, a media liaison for the Pakistan Sports Board confirmed the news as authentic. However, the official added that the FC has now vacated the site, a cleaning process is underway, and the gymnasium will soon be reopened for boxers.

Other senior staff of the Sports Board, who spoke to the media but did not wish to be named for fear of retribution desiring not to be named, said that the board had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2016 with Amir Khan to set up the academy.

Under the agreement, Amir would provide the coaches and boxing equipment for the academy, while the PSB would extend all necessary support to run it efficiently, including the basic facility (the gymnasium).

Boxing academy to resume in a month

In a subsequent video that Amir posted after travelling to Dubai from Pakistan, the boxer said that the issue had been resolved and that they are currently cleaning up the gymnasium and getting fresh equipment and will reopen its doors to boxers in a month.

"I want to say a big thank you to the Pakistan Sports Board, the Pakistan Army, the Pakistan government, and Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi. He helped us a lot in reopening the gym," Amir said in the video, adding that all FC personnel have now left the gym.

"After a month, we will reopen the gym. We will clean it up and get new bags, canvas, skipping ropes, and other equipment," he said.

Referring to his earlier video, he goes on to say how dirty the gym was before. "But now, you can see that we have cleaned it up, and they (FC) have left. We will polish it up and get new equipment for the gym."

 "Now they can play, fight in the gym and train to represent Pakistan."

Amir has worked closely on the gym, with a visit to the facility almost an annual ritual. He has enjoyed close ties with the military in the past, having been pictured with the likes of Lt General Asif Ghafoor and was taken on a tour of the Line of Control by the Pakistani military. He was also seen as having cordial ties with former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan as well as incumbent prime minister Shehbaz Sharif (back when he was still Punjab's chief minister).