Short docu-series, also featuring Amir Khan, showcases ethnic minority boxers in Britain British boxer Amir Khan (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
A research project, led by De Montfort University (DMU) academics analysing the involvement of immigrants and minority groups in British boxing, has been turned into a mini documentary series, one of which features boxer Amir Khan.
David Dee, associate professor in modern history, is undertaking a research focusing on boxers from immigrant families or from ethnic minority backgrounds from the mid-18th century through to Amir Khan who won a world title at just 22 in 2009.
The findings will be published soon in a book. So far of Dee’s work has been documented in a five-part short film series commissioned by the Gerda Henkel Foundation, which also funded the research, and filmed on the DMU campus.
Each of the first four episodes focuses on a different era of boxing with case studies of fighters from each generation. The penultimate episode in the series looks at Khan as a national icon and community role model during his early professional career and the struggles he faced due to his ethnic minority background.
Born and brought up in Bolton in a Pakistani immigrant family, Khan has a successful amateur boxing career. At the age of 17, he won a silver medal at the Athens Olympics in the lightweight boxing category, becoming Britain’s youngest Olympic boxer since Colin Jones in 1976.
“Khan’s pro debut took place just days after the London 7/7 bombings,” Dr Dee says in the mini docu-series. “Because of that, he faced huge pressure to be a role model for the Asian and Muslim community.”
The docu-series also showcases bare-knuckle boxer Daniel Mendoz from Jewish background and black boxers Larry Gains, Len Johnson, Dick Turpin and Vince Hawkins who faced obstacles due to Britain’s regulation of “colour bar” in boxing.