By: Jerome Souza (@FirstClassBox)
As Bolton’s Amir Khan awaits word for his next fight, he recently spent an extended period of time training at Virgil Hunter’s private gym in Hayward, California. Nestled in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area, Hayward is less than 10 miles away Oakland and a little over 20 miles from San Francisco. Hunter, along with his most famed fighter, Andre Ward, spent more than a decade at the legendary King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland, CA until Hunter moved his operation down the road to Hayward. Hunter is still associated with King’s but with a stable that includes Ward, Khan, Andre Berto, Andrzej Fonfara, Peter Quillin and now helping Daniel Jacobs prepare for Gennady Golovkin, Hunter needed the use of a private facility.
With a population closing in on 8 million, Khan has been able to briefly escape the U.K. limelight and keep his body in fighting shape. Speaking to the media during a recent roundtable, FirstClassBoxing.com asked Khan once his next fight gets finalized if he plans on keeping his full training camp in the Bay Area or will he take things back to the UK, “we may have to change it a little bit, depending on my days in the U.S. I only like to stay for so many days here. If I do, I may have to mix it up a little bit and go back to the U.K. to finish off my training camp. But I think it’s the best time to leave the U.K. and train over here it’s a little warmer, U.K. is a little bit cold at the moment, a little bit spoiled I am here”. During the winter months, Hayward, CA averages temperatures in the high 50’s fahrenheit and with the exception of the usual new year rain, it does not snow.
Though Khan is enjoying the privacy of training in the Bay Area, he still surrounds himself with those most important to him. In addition to his immediate family, Khan spoke about his manager Asif Vali and friend Abid Khan, “Asif’s never been there it’s going to be the first time he’s come to the Bay Area. My friend Abid just came to San Francisco and said [he] can’t believe how peaceful it is because it is very calmed and chilled”.
FirstClassBoxing.com also asked Khan if its easier to train in the Bay Area because he’s able to seclude himself and his family from celebrity life, “I think it’s a little bit harder in the U.K. than it is [in the Bay Area]. I mean here it’s quite chilled out, honestly like where I live in [the Bay Area] is very calm, very chill, very slow life. That’s what you need especially when you’re in a training camp, you know you don’t need nothing going on. I used to be in [Los Angeles] before, I used to be in England before and those places could be quite crazy”.
While in the Bay Area, Khan chose to live in smaller town south of Hayward called Union City. Union City was not much of town until about 20 years ago when it tore down its long-standing drive-in cinema and built the first movie theater equipped with stadium seating on that side of the East Bay. Soon several businesses followed and Union City gradually grew into what it is today. Union City and two other adjacent cities Fremont and Newark, together hold the largest number of Middle Eastern families in the East Bay.
The Bay Area is also the home to six professional sports teams which include baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. Khan was able to take in a Golden State Warriors basketball game as the team looks to reach the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year. Several local sports stars have stopped into Hunter’s gym in the past and with most recently during Ward’s training camp for the Sergey Kovalev fight last November. With so much sports coverage on the local teams and their success, Khan also gets to take a break from his own local media, “the only time I get to speak to media or kind of start seeing a lot of people is when I do media days or have conference calls, other than that i keep myself locked away and focus on boxing.”by