Sport knows no borders.
Vijender Singh, a bronze medalist for India at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the middleweight category, has embraced professionalism.
The boxer has moved to London after signing a contract with Queensberry Promotions that will see him fight a minimum of six bouts in his first year as a pro.
The celebrated pugilist brings the curtain down on his aspirations of a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
His current employers, the Haryana police, objected to Vijender’s move claiming that he cannot serve two masters—Mammon and the Indian public, at large.
Vijender is currently on probation as a DSP.
“I don’t want to compare myself to a legend like Pacquiao, but if I can achieve even half of what he has, I will consider myself successful.
Just like how Pacquiao carried the Phillipines flag and (Floyd) Mayweather Jr carried the US flag to their bout, I will carry the Indian flag to my bouts. I’ve taken Indian boxing to a new, untested level and opened international avenues for our boxers. This cannot be viewed as un-patriotic.”
The Bhiwani lad has always sought the limelight and is considered the glamour boy of Indian boxing.
His clean-cut good looks made him a favorite with advertisers and a brief doping (heroin) scandal did nothing to sully his reputation. The slugger also starred in a Bollywood film Fugly that released in 2014.
Vijender is not the first Indian boxer to turn professional but he could be one of the best and turn the spotlight back on a sport that has lost its luster with a disaffiliated and derecognized national boxing federation unable to send Indian fighters to participate in international tournaments.
Indian boxing needs another shot in the arm and this could very well be it.