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Blackburn boxing coach ‘devastated’ by sentence
THE professional coach behind a jailed Blackburn boxing champion said he was left shocked and devastated by the judge’s decision.
Current European Boxing Federation British lightweight champion Shakeeb Ali was handed a 12-month prison sentence on Tuesday, for intimidating a witness in a child sex abuse case.
The 20-year-old, who was due to fight his first professional bout in October, subjected his teenage victim to a week of threats of violence and intimidation after ‘engineering’ several meetings.
But the rising star’s coach Jason Curtis believes the semi professional boxer, nicknamed ‘Little Amir’ after Olympic silver medalist Amir Khan, had just been ‘caught up’ trying to protect a family member accused of orally raping a girl.
Mr Curtis said: “We are absolutely devastated Shakeeb has been sent to prison. We just didn’t expect it.
“We were led to believe he would get a community sentence so were not prepared for him to go inside at all.
“ It was all over helping a family member.
“We are hoping he will be able to continue training while he is in prison.
“He is only 20-years-old and he is super fit so it shouldn’t take him too long to get back up to physical peak when he is released.
“It is hard to say whether this will have a negative impact on his career. It is my job to try and keep him motivated and I am hoping to visit him in the next few days.
“It is a real shame, Shakeeb was about to have his debut professional boxing match on October 7.”
Ali, who has won 42 of his 54 matches, admitted conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Following the case, Ali’s former coach, Yaqoob Hussain MBE, the Audley ABC’s head coach and founder, said: “I am really sad to hear Shakeeb has been sent to prison but he has obviously done something wrong.
“We try and instil discipline into our boxers here and when Shakeeb was here he was very disciplined and well behaved.”
Ali, of Whitehead Street, Blackburn, will serve his sentence in a young offenders' institution.