New Delhi: Drawing flak from some quarters after turning professional, star Indian boxer Vijender Singh on Friuday got the backing of Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who met him here and asked him to ignore the criticism.

Boxer Vijender Singh practicing with trainer Lee Beard at Mumbai’s Phoenix Market City Mall recently. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

Vijender, who signed up with the UK-based Queensberry Promotions earlier this month for a four-year deal, met the Minister and discussed his decision to quite amateur boxing with him. “I spoke to him this morning and he told me that I could come over for a meeting. And it was wonderful because I explained to him that professional boxing was the obvious next step for me after representing India in three Olympic Games,” Vijender told PTI after the meeting. “He was extremely supportive and wished me all the luck,” added India’s first Olympic and World Championships bronze-medallist.

Vijender’s decision to turn pro has been met with mixed reactions so far and he has criticised for quitting amateur boxing a year before bhis fourth Olympics. However, Vijender said the Sports Minister held no such views. “He knew of the noise being created about my decision but he told me just ignore all that and do well. It was morale-boosting to meet him because he told me that he thoroughly enjoys watching professional boxing,” the strapping six-footer said.
Vijender will be making his professional debut in September in the UK.