IF YOU HAVEN'T yet seen the action extravaganza that is Jackie Chan's Vanguard, where have you been? Go now! For those who have had the pleasure, Dubai's Tam Khan may be a familiar face. For not only does the locally-based British entrepreneur head his own Media City gym, TK MMA & Fitness, the pro mixed martial artist was also cast alongside China's biggest superstar to play against him as a member of a nefarious organisation bent on wreaking havoc in the region. "I look the part, so they thought 'that's it, put him as a bad guy,'" Khan said when we spoke to him at his fitness centre this week. Initially approached to recommend a few of his gym's athletes for parts in the movie, when the directors saw Khan's hulking figure they were forthright in their encouragement he should take on a major role. "I went to the casting and I'd never done acting before but I did quite well and they thought I was a natural. A week or two later we started filming." Growing up admiring the likes of Chan, Bruce Lee and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Khan told us he was so overwhelmed by the offer of a chance to work with one of his heroes, he would have completed the job for free. And while cordial with the "down-to-Earth" Chan on set during lunch, Khan did not wish for his excitement to get the better of him.
"I didn't want to be a fan boy," he said. "People who are professional and experienced said, 'let's not go with phones and take pics'. I wanted to show I could also be professional." It appears Khan's Vanguard experience has ignited a desire to expand his showbiz endeavours. So far appearances in an upcoming computer game and a few commercials have satiated his hunger, although the actor feels Hollywood could be the ultimate destination. "I was reached out to by a woman called Christine Peters in Los Angeles who was behind the film How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days," Khan said of his future plans. "We spoke regarding some projects in the United States and I was looking to go out in March. Then Covid hit and it'll be delayed a bit. "They have a good script idea for myself there. It's a bit comedy, a bit children-based, like a sitcom. I can't say too much about it but I'm looking forward to going there at the end of the year or early 2021 to see where that takes me."
Khan's journey into a fitness career began in front of the TV watching iconic boxers including Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno. His mother noticed his love of the sport and quickly enrolled her child in a gym where he took it up. "From there I turned into a professional MMA fighter," Khan continued. "I remember I watched my first UFC match in 1993 and I fell in love with it. I met my coach in Essex and went full time." The rest as they say is history. Khan's professionalism subsequently led to him moving to Dubai. Holidaying in the UAE in the mid-2000s, even whilst on vacation he could not take a break from training. Searching in vain for a full MMA standard gym, Khan's hunt came up short and he had to make do in a regular sports facility; not ideal for a champion. "I went back to Essex after the trip and it was a cold rainy day. I was sitting in a supermarket car park, and I just thought I'd pack up and go and start my own gym. It was a risk but that was over a decade ago and here I am."
A new dad, Khan now splits his time between keeping the business running, looking after the acting opportunities and taking care of 15-month-old twin girls who keep him on his toes. How, therefore, does he stay in shape? "It's just discipline. We're all humans and the advice I give to everyone is: don't have high expectations. Don't look at social media. 99 per cent of it is Photoshop or filters. Take your time and don't run before you can walk. "I've had times where I've ballooned up, I've had days where I've been thin. The first thing is fix your diet. Try to eat clean at least on the weekdays and on the weekends have your enjoyment. Be active. The aim is to burn more than you put in your mouth. Walk, paddleboard, do anything. It's a start. Then join a good gym where they have good people who can guide you." A message for KT readers "I just want to give a big shout-out to my man and my brother Suhail Galadari for all the help, content and things he provides with Khaleej Times."