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Khan runs into some visa problems

06
May

Amir Khan took a fight against Paulie Malignaggi on May 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York in part because he wants to become a big name in America. The question as of Thursday afternoon, however, was whether he could get into America.

Khan, a citizen of the UK, had been stuck in Vancouver for a week awaiting word from the Department of Homeland Security that a visa which would allow him to fight in New York had been issued.

David Itskowitch of Golden Boy Promotions, Khan’s promoter, said his firm has been working with the U.S. government on the issue and expected it to be resolved at any time. Khan, who has enjoyed training in Canada, didn’t seem to be concerned.

Malignaggi and his handlers? That’s a different story. They said they have faith in the Golden Boy people but were extremely nervous about the situation.



“I have a good working relationship with Golden Boy Promotions,” said Lou DiBella, Malignaggi’s promoter. “Dave used to work for me. (CEO) Richard Schaefer has never lied to me. I’ve been led to believe everything is fine. That said, I don’t know the whole story. Why doesn’t he have a visa? Why is he stuck in Vancouver? I’m trusting he’ll be in New York Monday and we’ll have a fight Saturday.

“Honestely, if for some reason he doesn’t get in, you’re going to have two angry Italians to deal with in New York.”

Meanwhile, Malignaggi, perhaps sensing that a golden opportunity could slip away over the visa, railed against the process.

“It’s a f—ing joke,” he said. “You have people in the country blowing sÔÇöt up. Then you have someone who wants to come here to work and he can’t get in. Let him in.”

Khan, who trains in Hollywood, Calif., has what amounts to a tourist visa. However, he can’t work here without permission from the government. In order to get the OK, as per U.S. law, he had to leave the country, get the new visa and then return. He went to Vancouver because it was the closest foreign consulate.

The visa, for which Khan applied in March, apparently was approved but he is still waiting for it to be issued.

“We’re working to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. We want him to be in New York on Monday,” Itskowitch said.

That would ease the minds of the two potentially angry Italians.

Training in Vancouver: Khan seemed to embrace the chance to train in Vancouver, where the owner of the “Sugarrays” gym (named in honor of both Robinson and Leonard) has allowed them free access.

“I have to say sometimes it’s nice moving training camp,” he said. “ÔǪ It’s been quite fun, different working in a different gym. It’s been a lot quieter, not as full as the Wild Card gym (in Hollywood). It’s given me a chance to work with Freddie one on one.

“ÔǪ As soon as the visa gets done, though, I’ll be in New York. I think today [Thursday] or tomorrow.”

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