A huge fan of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky series, Vijender spoke to cs about his struggle and his vision for the sport:
I hail from a small town so the ambition of becoming a professional boxer was a far-fetched one. In north, especially in small villages and towns, every kid thinks of joining the Indian Army. That’s considered to be very respectful and that is the dream I grew up with. Like most of the boys and my elder brother, I too aspired to become a soldier.
A knockout start
My elder brother, who’s now in the Indian Army, would take me along with him to the boxing ring. He would go to the akhada frequently for his training. Few years ago, not many people knew of or were even interested in boxing as a sport. Seeing my brother, I would also get all charged up and started boxing. I was the juniormost there, but I would still beat up older competitors! That’s how I was introduced to the sport. After that, I took up boxing seriously. In 1999, I lost in the first round of the sub junior national boxing championship. It is then I decided that I would hit back harder. My failures have also motivated me. In early 2000, I won a gold medal in a boxing tournament and since then I have never looked back.
Everyone has their own struggle story. I had my set of challenges too and I am proud that I got over them. I am what I am today because of them. Be it lack of proper training or lack of proper medical facilities, I have gone through it all and emerged a winner. That’s why I want to do my bit to promote the sport and make it easier for the younger lot.
A dream today
Just like cricketers, we too are smart, intelligent and decent looking. The government needs to focus more on other sports as well. Boxing needs a lot of attention in terms of infrastructure and medical support. We definitely need some good physiotherapists, doctors, and dieticians. Now that I have visited so many countries, I know what goes into making of a gold medalist. Half the times our athletes don’t know which product and supplements to use and are allowed. So, due to lack of information we have to bear the brunt and face embarrassment internationally. As a sports person, everyday I work hard to make my country proud. I am planning to come up with a proper boxing school near my village with proper facilities. That is my dream.