Amir Khan's trainer opens up on illness that left him at death's door

Amir Khan’s trainer Virgil Hunter has revealed how close he came to dying when he suddenly took ill.

Hunter is back training Khan for his April 20 clash with Terence Crawford at Madison Square Garden a year after he collapsed at home and fell into a coma.

Speaking for the first time about his brush with death, Hunter says he suffered a severe allergic reaction to the steroid Deca he took for back pain ahead of a fight in New York.

Hunter was fortunate his wife discovered him and he dreads to think what might have happened if he had passed out 24 hours earlier when boxing mogul Al Haymon had advised him to shut himself away in a hotel to rest.

“My wife called and I didn’t answer,” said the American cornerman. “She called two more times and something told her that’s not right.

“She left her job to come to the house to find me collapsed on the stairs. I’d been there for about an hour-and-a-half.

Amir Khan with trainer Virgil Hunter

“The deca raised my blood sugar to 1,400 which is stroke zone, heart-attack zone, organ shut down.

“As I laid on the stairs, I was already in a coma. I was in a diabetic coma for about a week, I wasn’t induced. My kidneys had shut down, I’d had a mild heart attack.

“I often think to when Al kept me back in New York to rest those two days. I had a do-not-disturb sign on the door. I thought to myself ‘man, what if I had passed out then?’.

“Nobody would have knocked on the door until it was time to check out. By then I could have been in a coma overnight and it could have been really bad, so I’m thankful it happened when it happened.

“The good Lord gave my wife the insight to know that something wasn’t right.”

Khan prepares for training

Hunter, 65, was so badly affected he had to learn to walk again, but he amazed his doctor by recovering ahead of schedule and is back to full health to train Khan at his Oakland gym.

He has a new perspective on life as he sat chatting in his office, surrounded by photos of his music idols, such as Miles Davis and Billie Holiday, and his most-celebrated fighter Andre Ward.

“I had to learn how to walk again,” he said. “I remember a therapist came to my bedside with a walker. I said ‘what’s this for?’ and they said I had to start learning how to walk again. I said ‘you’ve got to be joking, I can walk!’.

“I got up to sit on the side of the bed, but I couldn’t stand up. That triggered me to really push because I was thinking about all the people in my gym. That gave me courage and I started pushing, pushing, pushing.

“My doctor said in all his years, he’s never seen anyone recover as quickly as I did and I was back in the gym in nine or 10 weeks.

“I’m good now and I’m 100 per cent.”

Amir Khan challenges Terence Crawford for the WBO welterweight title, live on BT Sport Box Office, Saturday, April 20. For more information go to


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