Vijender set to enter the big league

I know I can fight and defend myself, says Indian pugilist
Last Updated : 08 October 2015, 18:16 IST

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Vijender Singh is not the one to shy away from challenges. He picked up professional boxing, after achieving stupendous success as an amateur, when many would have advised him against it. But the Bhiwani boxer has been clear about his choice. It was not easy, he would admit, but better than nursing the regret of never trying. Come Saturday and the Beijing Olympic medallist would be heralding a new era for himself and, perhaps, for Indian boxing too.

If he manages to overwhelm Sonny Whiting in his debut bout in Manchester Arena, Vijender would achieve the unprecedented. A handful of Indian boxers who tried their hand in professional boxing could never enjoy a longer haul. The 29-year-old has the opportunity to overturn history, the way he has done all through his amateur career.
Vijender wouldn’t deny feeling a bit of nerves but takes confidence from his strenuous training under the watchful eyes of Lee Beard.

“I didn’t want to have any regrets. I had been World No 1, I had won Olympic medal. After that I really wanted to try my hand in professional boxing. Whether I become successful or not, it’s in God’s hands. I know when I will take the ring on October 10, I will be representing India and my fellow boxers. I know if I become successful, it will open doors to many others from my country and that is what motivates me,” Vijender told Deccan Herald from Manchester.

“I have been working very hard. Lee has helped me a lot to prepare for the fight and I have had some excellent sparring partners, including those who have won world pro titles. It has been totally different from amateur boxing. I will have to play several rounds. I have to be quick and hang tough. I know I am up against a senior pro-wrestler in Whiting but I know I am not lacking in effort.”

The professional boxing brings with it a dash of glamour, drama, ring entrance and most importantly an intimidating body language to make up for a multi-million-dollar sports entertainment. Vijender is still learning to adapt. “But at the end of the day it all comes down to boxing. Outside the ring my opponent could be good or bad but inside the ring he is just an opponent to beat. I know I can fight and I know I can defend myself. And that is what matters,” he said.

The month-long training in Manchester has been tough on the Bhiwani boxer. The loneliness, in the absence of family and friends, has gnawed at him. However, in the process he has discovered his ability to endure and also survive. “I miss my family, parents, wife and son. I am without my coaches and sparring partners in India (Jai Bhagwan and Dinesh Singh). There is no one to talk to in my language. I miss Indian food, so I go to a nearby Pakistani restaurant. It peps me up. All these struggles have made me realise that I am very strong. Beginnings are always hard,” he said.

His England stay has included bright moments as well. He has been visiting high profile events with world celebrities and watched the hyped English Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United with multiple-time pro boxing champion Prince Naseem Hamed. Hamed predicted that Vijender could be the next Manny Pacquiao.
“I am really humbled. But he (Manny Pacquiao) is one of the greats , I am just beginning. Doing promotional events with training has been hectic for me. But my focus is only on my bout on Saturday. I hope to fight to my potential,” he said.

Beard praises Vijender

Responsible for shaping up Vijender Singh, globally renowned trainer Lee is mighty impressed by the star Indian boxer’s technical know-how and the sheer power he puts into his punches, reported PTI.

Beard has been grooming Vijender for more than a month in Manchester.
 “In my analysis, Vijender is technically a very very talented boxer. You rarely see a natural talent like him. That’s something which is very impressive about him,” Beard told PTI in an interview from Manchester.

Published 08 October 2015, 18:16 IST

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