Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan are my Godfathers: Vijender Singh
India's Olympic medal-winning boxing champion, who will soon be seen in a movie, tells mid-day about the lessons he has learnt from Bollywood's superstars
Amateur boxing comprises three rounds, and the series of latest happenings around the life of India's most famous amateur boxer Vijender Singh has synonymously divided his life into three facets too. There's Vijender, the champion pugilist — having won the 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze, World Championships bronze, Asian Games gold besides a slew of other accolades in the ring.
Star boxer Vijender Singh poses outside his vanity van at Bandra's Mehboob Studio. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Then there's Vijender, the doting dad — son Abir was born in August last year. And finally, there's Vijender, the actor — his debut Bollywood flick Fugly is all set to hit cinemas this May. It's his latest 'role' however, that is most significant at the moment, says the ex-World No 1 Middleweight boxer.
"As a boxer, I always felt acting would be easy. Standing in front of the camera, muttering some dialogue and dancing around trees… how tough could that be? But from experience now I can tell you that it is very tough work. And not just for a newcomer like me, but for superstars too. Two doyens of the industry, Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan are my Godfathers, and they work equally hard every day.
I've had shoots that lasted anything between eight to 14-15 hours a day but it's been fun too. I've even slept in my vanity van in between shots a number of times. It's all about being disciplined. Discipline is as important in acting as it is in sport," Vijender told mid-day in between shots for a promotional video for his upcoming film at Mehboob Studios in Bandra recently.
Vijender has been shuttling between Mumbai and Delhi for over a year now and he's beginning to love the buzz of the city that never sleeps. "I love Mumbai so much that I'm planning to buy a house here soon. The city has such an exciting and busy streak. People here work very hard and party even harder," added the 28-year-old Deputy Superintendent of Haryana Police.
Parties however, are not something Vijender wants to get too involved with given the recent drug scandal he was embroiled in last March after 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 later cleared by the National Anti-Doping Agency. "I kept my silence throughout that episode because that's something I learnt from my mentors Akshay and Salman — just keep working hard even amid controversies and the truth will eventually be revealed.
If boxing has made me physically strong, acting has made me mentally tough. I prefer to stay away from parties and even if I have to attend any, I just make a brief stop as I have to wake up early for my mandatory two-hour training next morning," he explained.
Huge year ahead
Finally, it's a huge year for Vijender, not just the actor, but the boxer too, with the Commonwealth Games (Glasgow) and Asian Games (Incheon) later this year, and he's up for the challenge. "I've won a silver and bronze at the CWG and a bronze and a gold medal at the Asiad previously, so I've got the experience to compete. I'm training hard despite my hectic shooting schedule, so I'm in good shape too," added Vijender, even as he exuded confidence that just as the suspension of the Indian Olympic Association was recently lifted, the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation's (IBF) ban too will be lifted soon.
"I have spoken to the IBF president Abhishek Matoria and he has assured me that things will be sorted out soon and that we boxers will be able to compete under the national flag at the CWG and Asian Games. I can't wait to win medals for India again," he signed off, hurriedly rushing out of his vanity van for the next shot amidst lights, camera, action!
> Star boxer nervous ahead of Bollywood debut in May
> Pugilist says acting is a lot tougher than he expected it to be
> Is also gearing up for CWG and Asian Games later this year