Singapore striker Amir Khan may only be 23 years of age, but he boasts a wealth of experience, having competed professionally since the age of 19.
His career in ONE Championship has been a hugely successful one, with a share of both the most wins and finishes records in ONE Championship history, as well as the most knockouts in ONE history.
But do not call Khan a veteran. Not yet, at least.
“I’m not so sure,” he laughs.
“You’ll have to ask my teammates. I’m still young, and have plenty of years ahead of me.”
His experience has meant Khan is now one of the more senior figures at Evolve, the Singapore gym Khan calls home.
The Evolve Fight Team is packed with a host of world-class martial artists, and the team as a whole is blessed to have dozens of martial arts world champions. Despite not being a world champion himself, Khan has found himself teaching those stars as much as he is learning from them.
“Of course, once I get better, I’ve just got to be sure I help out all the new people who come in for mixed martial arts,” he says.
“That’s just like the others, such as “Brodinho” (Leandro Issa), who helped me out when I was new.
“Now, I feel more responsibility to help others out when they are having trouble – like Sagetdao with wrestling or on the ground. He has trouble understanding, so I break it down to him slowly.
“I have to care for my teammates. It’s like a cycle. What I do for them, they do for someone else, and those people will do for me. It keeps the cycle going.”
It has been a remarkable story of growth for Khan, who was a raw young prospect when he first joined the gym.
“Though I wouldn’t say I understand mixed martial arts 100 percent – because you can never limit your knowledge – I feel like I know mixed martial arts enough that I can break it down in every area,” he says.
“When it comes to striking, wrestling, grappling, and clinching, I can break it down to someone in the gym.
“I don’t really have to try hard to set a good example, because I work hard, I’m humble, and I just try to be myself.
“I just do what I do best, and I feel as long as you have good intentions, that’s good enough.
“I used to be one of them. I can share what I was lacking with them so they can have more of an idea what the fight game is about.”
Khan has become a seasoned, experienced head at the gym, and as a result, some of the younger, less experienced martial artists often turn to him for advice and guidance, and he does his best to help them.
“A lot of students look up to me and ask for advice, so of course I have to set the right example and be open about my path if they want to follow my path,” he explains.
Khan’s next outing in ONE Championship is a big one. He faces former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario in the co-main event at ONE: BEYOND THE HORIZON on 8 September in Shanghai, China.
It is his hope that, as he continues on his path to martial arts greatness, he can inspire others from The Lion City to follow in his footsteps and form a legacy future Singaporean martial artists can build on.
“I just want to prove this career has prospects. You can achieve things, make a living out of it, and have fun, you know? You won’t be broke or struggling for food. I want to set a path, achieve the goal, and I feel many Singaporeans will follow.
“In Singapore, many people don’t think you can make a career out of mixed martial arts. I want to show everyone it is possible.”