High-profile athletes have been warned by security chiefs to finally stop showing off “bling” on social media after former boxing champion Amir Khan was robbed of his watch at gunpoint.
Khan revealed on Monday night how he and his wife Faryal Makhdoom had been targeted while the couple were outside a restaurant in East London. He described how a gun was pointed at his face as two assailants threatened him and his wife before demanding his high-value Franck Muller Vanguard Chronograph. The assailants then sped off in a car in Leyton at around 9.15pm. “I crossed the road with Faryal – luckily she was [a] few steps behind me,” Khan tweeted. “2 men ran to me, he asked for my watch whist having a gun pointed in my face. The main thing is we’re both safe.”
Hours before the attack outside the Sahara Grill, Khan was pictured by a member of the public on Instagram shopping at Oxford Street while wearing the diamond-encrusted timepiece, which is believed to have been snatched.
The incident comes two years after the 2004 Olympics silver medalist was criticised for using social media to show off about a £100k Richard Mille 32 designer watch he had bought. His online post carried the caption: “Not everyday I treat myself.”
Alex Bomberg, whose Intelligent Protection firm provides security for athletes and the celebrity world, said athletes need to now “switch on” to the potential link between “showing off bling” and targeted attacks.
“With our clients, we always educate them about what they’re putting on social media and also the kids as well,” Bomberg told Telegraph Sport. “This could have gone very badly, very easily for Khan, especially with his wife there as well. I always say these types of incidents are avoidable. He should always be thinking about personal security, where he is, what he’s got on his wrist and what he’s posted on social media.”
Athletes have become regular targets for criminal gangs in recent years. Last month, Jesse Lingard became the latest footballer preyed on, with thieves swooping on his home – while he was playing – to take £100,000 of clothes and jewellery. Other high profile sporting figures targeted in recent years include Dele Alli in May 2020.
Khan, meanwhile, was wearing his watch at a charity event for his foundation at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane on Friday. The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Police were called at 9.15pm on Monday, April 18 to High Road, Leyton. A man aged in his 30s is alleged to have been approached by two males who threatened him with a firearm before stealing his watch and fleeing. There were no reports of any shots fired or any injuries.
“Police responded and conducted an area search. At this very early stage there have been no arrests. An investigation has begun and police are following a number of enquiries.”
Faryal and Khan have been married since 2013 and have three children together. It is not the first time the Bolton-born fighter has been subjected to such a terrifying ordeal. In 2018, he revealed how he had had to fight off an armed gang trying to steal his £100k Range Rover six years earlier.
“It was really scary because I knew my life was on the line,” he said at the time. “When you are in a situation like that you have to react quickly or you are going to get hurt. There were about 20 guys, all with metal bars.”
The former WBA and IBF light-welterweight champion was beaten by fellow Briton Kell Brook via a sixth-round stoppage in Manchester in February.