Updated: Monday, 11th December 2017 @ 2:23pm

Amir Khan after the riots: 'Sport teaches discipline – get kids involved'

Amir Khan after the riots: 'Sport teaches discipline – get kids involved'

By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent

Greater Manchester residents and politicians have lined up to agree with boxer Amir Khan as he called for sport to be used to help the city recover from last week’s riots.

Rioting broke out in Manchester, as well as London, Liverpool, the West Midlands and Bristol.

Bolton-born Khan, the WBF and IBA light-welterweight champion, believes sport can play a pivotal role in reversing the ‘anger and frustration’ in young people which he believe was a major factor in the trouble.

"What happened shocked me and was a shock to everyone in Britain," he said.

He continued by saying the riots were the culmination of a build-up of anger and frustration in people across the country.

He added: “Kids don’t have much to do and because it’s the school holidays a lot of them are hanging out on the streets.”

Khan, who paid £700,000 to set up the Gloves Community Centre in his hometown in 2007, is calling for sportsmen and women to play their part in rebuilding communities.

“Sport is very positive and in my eyes channels energy into something beneficial,” he said, before adding, “Kids definitely need more role models.  Sports stars can make such a difference”

Councillor Iain Roberts is a Liberal Democrat representative for Cheadle & Gatley.

He said: “Giving young people positive outlets for their energy and enthusiasm is very important.”

So, what can his constituents encourage their children to do?

“In Stockport, we've a first rate swimming club (Stockport Metro), along with literally hundreds of other clubs and groups from ballet to Air Cadets,” he said.

Councillor Roberts dismissed notions of a ‘lost generation’, a phrase that has been commonly used in reports of the rioting.

“The vast majority of our youth across Greater Manchester want to build a better future for themselves - our job is to help them,” he said.

This sounds very noble, but with austerity cuts in full swing across the country, are councils going to struggle to back up this promise?

“The cuts have had some effect of course, but I continue to be amazed at just how much there is for young people to do,” he said.

Self-employed Salford fitness instructor Jo Baxter agreed that sport can help kerb aggression in youths as well as improve their health.

She said: “I agree with Amir. Big sports stars can definitely play a part in influencing kids.  Sports like martial arts and boxing let them release their anger in a safe environment.”

Khan also stated his surprise at Manchester becoming involved in the riots, which began in London.

He said: “"I hang out a lot in Manchester and never expected it to happen there. It just shows how angry people are."

Jo also shared Amir’s surprise that the trouble spread to the city, including Salford Precinct nearby to her home.

“I wasn’t in Manchester the night of the riots thankfully.  Salford Precinct is only five minutes away from my house, seeing it being smashed up on the news was terrifying,” she said.

Away from the riots, Amir is looking ahead to adding more gold to his collection by keeping an eye on next month’s WBC welterweight title fight between Erik Morales and Lucas Martin Matthysse.

He said confidently: "I'll fight anyone, but I definitely want the winner of Morales and Matthysse. That would be another title in the bank”


More related stories:

Royal praise in dealing with riots as Prince Harry visits Salford

Sir Bobby Charlton and Michael Vaughan say riots 'must never happen again'