Thirteen-year-old Ben O’ Brien, who lost his leg to cancer, couldn’t believe his eyes when British professional boxer and world champion Amir Khan joined him in the ring during a gruelling training session for Stand Up To Cancer.
Ben, from Ecclesfield, was a very active child and had always dreamed of being a successful sportsman but his dreams were put on hold when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bone cancer in January 2011.
After intensive chemotherapy Ben came to a brave but lifesaving decision to have his leg amputated above the knee. Since the operation, Ben lives with the attitude ‘impossible is nothing’, has taken up boxing and has set his sights on the 2020 Paralympics.
Stand Up To Cancer, a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, arranged for Amir to surprise Ben during training to inspire people to support the campaign. Stand Up To Cancer funds translational research, accelerating new cancer treatments and tests to UK patients to ultimately save more lives.
Ben, who trains with former boxer Glyn Rhodes at the Sheffield Boxing Centre in Hillsborough, said, “I couldn’t believe it when I saw Amir Khan walk through the doors, I thought I was seeing things. He’s a hero of mine and today has been amazing, I never thought I’d get to say I’ve fought against the mighty Khan. He’s shown me that nothing can get in the way if you really want something. Not even cancer!”
Amir Khan said, “Ben’s positivity and enthusiasm is infectious. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be diagnosed with cancer at such a young age and losing part of your leg is a huge thing to overcome at any age. Ben got straight back up after being knocked down and he’s turned his experience into something positive. It was an absolute honour to meet him and I wish him all the luck in the world in the ring and beyond. And I’ll be watching out for him at the Olympics in 2020.”
On the day he was also joined by world champion Anthony Crolla who took a break from training for his upcoming fight against Jorge Linares to say hello and wish him well.
Stand Up To Cancer launched in the UK in 2012 and has since raised more than £25million which has funded 26 trials, involving more than 9,000 cancer patients.
Amir Khan and Ben O’Brien are supporting Stand Up To Cancer. For more information visit: standuptocancer.org.uk