A birthday, they say, makes you older and wiser. But in the case of India’s star boxer Vijender Singh, it has made him bolder and wiser. The Beijing Olympics bronze medal-winning pugilist turned 28 yesterday, and as he blew out those candles he also hoped that the clouds of doubt hovering in the minds of his fans due to a doping scandal that engulfed his life some months ago, quickly disappear.
“It’s been a good year… a testing year. I have learnt a lot of lessons in the year gone by. There’s one famous Hindi movie dialogue that I believe in. It goes something like…’if you find too many people criticising you, it means you are progressing.’ I believe I am progressing and I have learnt to be unafraid of people, who criticise me,” the middleweight boxer told MiD DAY yesterday.
In March, Vijender got linked to a drug scandal when the Punjab Police found his car outside the Chandigarh residence of an alleged drug dealer during a raid that yielded heroine worth approximately Rs 130 crore. Vijender was subsequently cleared by the National Anti-Doping Agency but not before the Punjab cops engaged in some serious mud slinging claiming that the boxer and his sparring partner Ram Singh consumed drugs on numerous occasions.
Vijender admitted the year has put him through some nightmarish times, but there have been brighter moments too. “If boxing has taught me to be careful inside the ring, that episode (doping scandal) has taught me to be careful outside the ring too.
“But the year has had some good moments too — like the birth of my son Abir (in August). Then, I got back into the ring against all odds and didn’t do too badly (second round defeat) at the World Championships. Now, I’m also pursuing my acting dreams,” explained the country’s first World Boxing Championships medallist (bronze in 2009).
Year No 29 promises to be more exciting for the former World No 1. “There’s the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games and I hope to do well there. Also, my film Fugly should be releasing next year, so that will be exciting too,” he said. Finally, as for the birthday plans, Vijender spoke like a true film star: “I will be shooting throughout the day and then I plan to have a quiet family dinner with my wife and son.”