What Vijender Singh’s debut means for Indian boxing
By Vikram Birring, Dog House Boxing (Oct 8, 2015)
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In India, Vijender had a cushy position with the government, essentially for life, and recently forayed into Bollywood. His life seemed set.
He had other ideas.
India has no boxing commission, so after an amateur career, boxers, and athletes in general, tend to receive well-paid government jobs that will allow them to work until the age of sixty, with healthy pensions in retirement.
With his good looks, Vijender had the potential to become a Bollywood superstar, as his recent dips into the industry seemed to cement that path.
However, the desire to become a boxing champion never left him, and since there was no way to reach his dreams in India, he followed the time-honored Indian tradition of emigrating to get better opportunities in his field, particularly to England, where there is a huge Indian diaspora, particularly Punjabi.
Enter Queensberry Promotions, a promotional company based in Manchester, England. Vijender jumped at the offer and headed to England, only after receiving permission from the Indian government of course.
Now Vijender goes from rubbing shoulders with movie stars like Salman Khan to trading punches from other aspiring boxers in sweat-filled boxing gyms. At the advanced age of twenty-nine, time is of the essence, and he will be expected to move up the ranks quickly.
However, the true impact of Vijender’s decision is the effect it will have on other successful Indian boxers.
India has been performing well in in recent international competitions. Satish Kumar and Vikas Yadav won bronze medals at the 2014 Asian games, and the brilliant Mary Kom won a gold for the women. In addition, at the 2014 Commonwealth games, Vijender won a silver along with Mandeep Jangra and Devendro Laishram, and Laishram Devi picked up a silver and Pinki Rani picked up a bronze on the women’s sides.
In the 2010 Commonwealth games which were held in India, Manoj Kumar, Paramjeet Sahota, and Suranjoy Mayengbam picked up golds, while Vijender, Dilbag Singh, Amandeep Singh, and Jai Bhagwan picked up bronze medals. Yadav and Vijender also won golds in the 2010 Asian games, while teammates Dinesh Kumar, V. Santosh Kumar, and Manpreet Singh won silvers, and Suranjoy Singh and Sahota won bronze. Mary Kom and Kavita Goyat picked up bronze on the women’s side.
The talent is abundant, and with recent use of Cuban coaches in the Indian boxing academies, the level of training has increased. But now, with Vijender’s daring decision to turn professional, boxers no longer have to only dream of riches in the professional ranks while toiling away in government jobs after lengthy amateur careers, they now can chase their own ambitions, as he has laid a path for others to follow.
To start from the bottom in professional boxing after already being a national hero is admirable of Vijender, but what he has done for all the other Indian boxers and those that have even give thought of becoming a boxer will be his legacy in the annals of time.
Vijender Singh’s professional debut is October 10 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England: the eyes of a billion Indians will be watching.
Questions or comments, e-mail Vikram at: email@example.com
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