Former VFL/AFL field umpire, Professor Karim Khan was another former umpire who was honoured in the Queens Birthday Australian Honours list in June.

Karim was awarded his Order of Australia “for distinguished service to sport and exercise medicine and to the promotion of physical activity for community health.”

Karim was appointed to the VFL senior panel in 1983 until his retirement in 1990.  In that time Karim umpired 29 VFL/AFL reserve grade matches, 60 VCFL games including two finals and 4 VFA matches.  Karim was a very popular member of the umpiring squad and enjoyed the social side of his umpiring journey.  Always inquisitive and looking for ways to improve Karim was always destined for great things.

Well known Australian Sports Physician and co-author, Dr Peter Brukner provides us with an overview of the professional career of Karim:

‘Karim first approached me (I think it was 1988) for advice about a career in sports medicine, it did not take me long to realise that here was another special individual. Karim started at Olympic Park Sports Medicine Clinic (OPSMC) the following year as well as at Alphington Sports Medicine and remained involved at both clinics for a number of years. He passed his Fellowship exams in 1993 and was awarded FACSP. He then decided the next challenge was a PhD (What! No-one in sports medicine does a PhD!!). Of course he did a great job with his PhD which followed his seminal paper on navicular stress fractures published in 1992 and still widely cited to this day.

At the same time Karim became involved in the Australian Ballet and the Australian Womens basketball team. However everything changed for Karim when he met fellow researcher Heather McKay at a conference in her native Canada.. Never one for the orthodox, Karim went off to another conference and came back announcing that he was married! He then jumped some difficult hurdles to get Canadian registration and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. There he worked initially at the Alan McGavin Sports Medicine clinic with founders Jack Taunton and Doug Clement. Along the way he completed an MBA and in 2008 was appointed a Professor in both the Department of General Practice as well as the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. More recently he spent a couple of years as Director of Research at Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital in Doha, Qatar.

Karim’s research interests developed over time from his initial interest in stress fractures, to tendon health, preventing falls in the elderly, bone strength and osteoporosis, and his most recent focus on the benefits of exercise. He has published 300 odd scientific papers and numerous books and book chapters. Karim has spoken (repeatedly) at every major sports medicine conference in the world. 

Speaking of books… when I was first approached to write a sports medicine textbook I looked around for someone to help me and I didn’t have to look too far. Brukner and Khan’s Clinical Sports Medicine has seen five editions with the second volume (yes it is too big for one volume these days) of the 5th edition due out this week. I have to say that sharing this writing experience with Karim has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my professional life. We both have similar work ethics and can be single minded when necessary. We have also had a lot of laughs.’


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