The poster boy of Indian boxing Vijender Singh, who made the cut for the national team that will take part in the World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan from October 11 to 27, is aiming for nothing less than the ultimate prize – gold!
“I have been to three World Championships before, so I have the relevant experience. I just need to focus and fight to my strengths and leave the rest to the Almighty. Though any medal at the World Championships is welcome, this time I’m aiming for gold,” Vijender told MiD DAY from the National Institute of Sports in Patiala on the concluding day of the two-day national selection trials for the Worlds yesterday.
Vijender became India’s first medalist at the World Championships when he returned with a bronze from Milan in 2009. But amateur boxing has undergone a sea change in the recent past; first in the points system and now with the removal of the headgear for the first time at the upcoming World Championships. Vijender felt this changes the entire equation.
“Fighting without headgear at the amateur level is an entirely different ball game. It’s dangerous. Now there’s no difference between us and professional boxers. This was the one big difference between amateur and professional boxing and I believe the international boxing federation (AIBA) should not have changed this,” added the 27-year-old Beijing Olympics bronze winner.
Vijender gave the example of Light Flyweight boxer L Devendro Singh, a medal prospect at the World Championships, who suffered a deep cut to his forehead as a result of a headbutt from his opponent Pankaj Saini during the trials on Wednesday.
“I feel very bad for Devendro as he was unable to make it to the national team for the World Championships due to what happened, but this is what can happen if headgear is not in use. We have to be a lot more cautious now because cuts can happen not necessarily due to punches but headbutts, shoulder charges, etc,” said the middleweight boxer.
Immediately after Devendro’s injury, Vijender and the rest of the boxers later put on their headgears during the trials to avoid risking injury ahead of the all-important event.
“It’s not that we can’t fight without headgears, we sure can. We have been training for this for the last few months and two days in the week -- Monday and Thursday -- we train without headgears. It’s tough but we can still succeed on the world stage,” added the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist, who recently turned dad. “My wife Archana delivered a baby boy on August 4, and we’re over the moon. We’ve named him Abir,” said the pugilist, sounding excited.
When asked if he’d let his son step into the ring too, Vijender replied in the affirmative. “I’ve watched Three Idiots (2009 Bollywood flick that highlights the pressures of the Indian education system) a number of times. I believe in the film and will give my son the independence to choose his career. If he wants to be a boxer, so be it. And I hope he goes on to be a much better boxer than me,” he signed off.
Indian squad for World C’ships...
>> Nanao Singh (49kg)
>> Madan Lal (52kg)
>> Shiva Thapa (56kg)
>> Vikas Malik (60kg)
>> Manoj Kumar (64kg
>> Mandeep Jangra (69Kg)
>> Vijender Singh (75kg)
>> Sumit Sangwan (81kg)
>> Manpreet Singh (91kg)
>> Satish (+91kg)