Singaporean lightweight veteran and former ONE World Title challenger Amir Khan will be fighting for more than just a victory when he steps into the Circle this Friday night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The 25-year-old national Muay Thai champion wants to dedicate his next performance to the man responsible for bringing him into this world, his father Tajudeen, who was diagnosed two months ago with Stage IV brain cancer.
Doctors gave Tajudeen at least three months left to live, which means this could be the last time he could watch his son perform.
“He started trembling,” Khan told ONE Championship, recalling how his father collapsed and suffered a seizure.
“We called the ambulance, and once we got to the hospital, he regained consciousness. The doctors did tons of scans – CT scans, brain scans, MRIs. And then after a few weeks, he went for a biopsy.”
Khan remembers how his entire family waited anxiously for the test results, although his mother who works as a hospital nurse, knew it could potentially be a brain tumor or cancer. Nevertheless, Khan was absolutely devastated by the findings, despite already having an idea of his father’s plight.
“I felt lost, destroyed,” Khan says.
“The doctors gave him three-to-six months, but they don’t know, right? That’s a rough estimation. They said he might not have long to live.”
People diagnosed with late-stage lymphoma of the brain have a life expectancy of 45 days if the illness is left untreated. But even if proper treatment was administered, the outlook is often bleak.
Less than 30 percent of patients are able to go on living for another five years, which includes regular chemotherapy sessions and the dreaded side effects that come with it.
Khan’s father ultimately decided against chemotherapy, because he didn’t want to have to suffer through the pain associated with the treatment.
“He decided not to get the chemo because the procedure is painful,” said Khan.
“He doesn’t want to live his last moments suffering. So, we’re respecting his wishes and trying to make the best of it.”
Khan is set to appear in a lightweight mixed martial arts contest against India’s Rahul “The Kerala Krusher” Raju at ONE: REIGN OF DYNASTIES, which broadcasts live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Friday, 9 October.
The Singaporean star wants to put on an exciting show, and is dedicating this fight to his ‘biggest fan.’
“Whenever I’d compete, I’d bring him backstage with me and take him along for fight week. Nothing made him happier than me getting a spectacular KO. Whenever I had a good performance, he’d be the proudest dad in the world. He’d tell his friends and our family members, so I would just try to replicate that in every fight. I will always cherish those moments together,” said Khan.
“I want to get a good win for my father. Not only get a win, but finish [Rahul] because I know that will make him proud and happy. That feeling of me making him happy and seeing the joy in his eyes is the ultimate happiness for me because I care and love my dad.”
Despite the dire circumstances, Khan chooses to remain optimistic. He says his father doesn’t want him to go on living depressed, or be affected by the current situation. The family remains hopeful that Tajudeen might be able to live longer.
No matter what happens, however, Khan says he will always remember the biggest lesson he learned from his father — and that is to never give up.
“Every time I wanted to give up, I looked at him and he was there to cheer me up. He gave me the strength to continue,” said Khan.
“My goal is still to be a World Champion. And I hope he’s here to see me achieve that goal.”