Q&A with Faheem Khan, Upstart Boxer and Mixed Martial ArtistWritten by Giovanni Righta
On October 20, 2012, boxing reporter Giovanni Righta interviewed Faheem "Prince Shani" Khan, an upstart welterweight prospect from Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom.
Khan is a southpaw who stands 5'10"/178cm and is 3-0-1. He's unique in that he competes as a boxer and mixed martial artist.
Khan is scheduled to fight again against an opponent soon to be named on November 23 in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.
What motivated you to become a boxer?
My Father was a boxer. He had about 150 amateur fights, and then he became a professional. He won the Asian Boxing Championship. He retired when he was 33 to take care of my grandmother and concentrate on our family.
How old were you when you started boxing?
I started boxing when I was 8 years old.
When was your first professional boxing bout?
In March 2012. I turned pro quite late actually, I had opportunities but I wasn't sure who to sign with. Most promoters were offering four to six fights a year. I had a discussion with my amateur boxing coach a guy called Mike Athlewait. He recommended I speak to a promoter called Erol Johnson from Birmingham, he has over a thousand boxers. He is my manager and promoter now.
Why did you decide to sign with Erol Johnson?
He offered me ten – twelve fights a year, which is what I want. I want to keep busy and working toward my goals.
So how many amateur fights did you have before you turned pro?
Over a hundred. When I started boxing I was a school boy. I had lost of fights before I was sixteen but these don't count on my record. Only the fights after you have turned sixteen count.
What is your current record?
As a pro I am undefeated. I have had four fights so far and I have another one coming up at the end of November.
Who was your last fight with?
His name was Carl Allen, he was bantam weight champion in the past. He took a few years off and moved up a weight class when he came back.
How do you feel the fight went?
It was a tough fight but I won on points. I had a K1 fight just before that in Ireland and I injured my left hand during that fight. I am a south paw so the injury to my left hand made things a bit difficult.
And your next fight?
I don't know who I'm fighting yet. Its one of those things it's up to my promoter I fight who ever he puts in front of me.
How do you prepare for a fight when you don't know who you're fighting?
Well I work on my fitness, making sure my endurance and stamina are good, that's the main thing. In my last fight I was matched up with a guy called Mark Razack he was a prize fighter and had been in the game a long time. Two days before the fight they changed my opponent to Carl Allen who had over 120 fights. He is a very experienced fighter. I just stuck with my A game and it worked. The way I see it is no matter who I'm fighting as long as I believe in myself – anything is possible!
Being from Exeter, do you think if you lived in a bigger city like London for example you would get better coaching and possibly more support?
The thing is it's my home town. At the beginning of your career you need to sell tickets to your fights. If you sell a lot of tickets your promoter will get you better fights. If you don't sell tickets you'll be one of those away fighters who has to travel to promotions just to get a fight. It's nice to have the crowds support when you fight too!
Do you currently hold any titles?
Amateur yes, I was the National Amateur Champion. Even if you are the best fighter on the planet as an amateur no one knows who you are. Just look at Amir Khan nobody knew who he was until he went to the Olympics – that's just the way it is. There is a guy called....good fighter... actually I had lost to him in as an amateur the past, his name was Michael Freeman, he was four times national champion. Last time I fought him I thought I thought to myself- if I beet him I'll turn pro & if I don't I'll focus on my weaknesses and get better. I won that fight and went pro.
What are you fight plans for the future?
I just want to take as many fights as I can. Time is short, I turned pro quite late at 30, but at the same time I'm really fresh. Look at Carl Froch for example he turned Pro at 28 and he's doing quite well for himself. He is one of the best in the world. He turned pro at his peak and he was fresh. The thing is if you turn pro too early you take too many punches to the head and you're not fresh.
What style of Boxer would you say you are?
I am a counter puncher. I was a big fan of Joe Calzaghe. I went to Newport and trained with him a few years ago he said to me "Eyes up, chin down, play like a boy, think like a man" something like that. I guess it means when your fighting have fun and stay alert, it always makes me laugh when I think of that saying.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
If I tell you I want to be the world champion its bullshit because it's wrong! I take life one step at a time and that includes fighting. My dream is top be the British Champion. I want that Lonsdale belt! I think that belt is the best in the world! I mean there is like 7 belts for world champion, area titles there is like 40 odd, English titles there is like 9 titles for each weight category. But Lonsdale belt, there is only one.
How long before you think you can get your hands on the Lonsdale belt?
Around two years. I'm reaching for that right now.
Do you feel that as an upcoming boxer you need to be a bit of a business man as well? For example selling your own tickets?
It does help if you are a bit of a business man but I'm not selling the tickets for the money. I am Muslim and I donate the proceeds from the ticket sales to my Mosque. I don't want to make money from my friends. I would rather have the support of my friends in the crowd than the money.
You're not only a boxer right you have had MMA & Kick Boxing fights in the past, tell me a bit about those fights.
Well my last MMA fight I was disqualified. Its my fault really, I got to the rules meeting late and when I took the fight I was disqualified because I had tiger balm on my legs, it was for my muscles but the ref said it was against the rules. I don't get it because I got a pat down by the ref before the fight and he didn't mention it then.
Your last K1 fight was in Ireland, how did that go?
It was a title fight against a young guy called Patrick Blight. He is a good fighter. It was tough in his hometown, all the support was for him. My coach told me that if it comes down to points he is likely to win due to the crowd support and all that. I was getting booed it was tough, but at the end of the fight I took the microphone and thanked Patrick and the crowd, they appreciated it, I like the fans in Ireland they appreciate a good fight.
That's the third time you have fought Patrick right?
Yeah, but this one was for a title.
Any other plans for K1 fights?
The thing is I was booked for an Inter Continental title fight later this month but I had to pull out. I want to concentrate on my upcoming boxing match. The problem is if you're a world champion kick boxer no one knows you but if you are an area champion boxer everybody knows you.
Considering you are multi disciplined do you have a preference when it comes to fighting?
Its definitely boxing, I train kick boxing and MMA for fitness and to keep sharp. But it's always boxing for me.
Considering the difference in pay grades over the disciplines, do you think its worth taking MMA & K1 fights?
It's not about the money! It never has been. When you're doing something you love it's never about the money.
Ok fair enough, what about the possibility of getting injured during these fights? Surely, if you get injured during one of these fights it's going to impact on your boxing career, which in turn will affect your financial position. For example what if you get caught in an arm bar, leg lock or similar and get ligament damage as a result, surely this has to be factored in to your plans?
You can get injured doing anything. I can't think like that, if I think oh I might get injured doing this and that I will never get anywhere.
Let's just say on average you get £200 per MMA fight in the UK and £2,000 per fight boxing? I understand you say it's not about the money, but considering these numbers do you not think taking MMA fights is risky?
It is risky but I want to get better in all aspects of fighting. If you see all of these MMA fighters in the UFC they all go through risk but you see the joy when they win their fights. That's what I want.
True, but the UFC fighters are getting paid decent money! That isn't the case in the UK yet!
No you're right but eventually I would like to take on more MMA fights. Maybe even one day make it to the UFC. My BJJ coach, Andy Costello from Project Mayhem, is keen to get me into the UFC. He is a good guy and I know he will take care of me. They are helping me a lot actually. When it comes to the injuries, well you only live once, you can't live in fear, and you need to live life to the fullest.
Ok so just to summarise, the future for Faheem Khan is to get to the Lonsdale belt within the next few years and then where from there?
If I get that Lonsdale belt I would love to try and get in to the UFC.
Just out of interest, what would you score yourself out of ten as an MMA fighter?
I would say 3 out of 10. Physically I am 9 out of 10 though, I am fit and healthy!
You scored yourself 3 what did you deduct points from, where are your weak areas?
Defiantly on the ground. I am training BJJ twice a week at the moment working on submission defence. My strength is striking so if I can develop enough on the ground to be able to get the fight back to standing then I should be ok.
Who do you attribute your current success too?
My Father, he was a big influence! Also, my coaches and sponsors, without sponsorship it would be difficult to get to where I am. Luckily I am sponsored by PT Performance training, my strength and condition coach, Body 2000 Exeter, Fitness First Exeter and Raj India Exeter
Thanks for your time Faheem, is there anything you would like to add?
I am having my 5th Pro boxing match on the 23rd of November in Gloucester come down and check it out I will put on a good show! Also, follow me on twitter at faheemkhan_ps also like my Facebook page Faheem KHAN.