“…a boxer is trained to sustain pain, to absorb it, to let it happen and let it go. And that’s a very important skill to have in life. Because you will get hit.”
“Fighting is spiritual, but you just can’t see the spiritual in it because it’s mostly dominated by the physical aspect. We want to be Achilles in our own mind. The king of all fighters.”
It’s baby steps, all right. That’s how Vijender Singh began his professional career against Sonny Whiting at Manchester Arena, UK last Saturday.
The 2008 Olympic bronze winner was a forerunner throughout the fight making his opponent look decidedly amateurish.
Is it a promise of better things to come?
We shall know soon enough.
The strapping young man has his next bout scheduled for October 30.
Many believed that Vijender had left it too late—turning professional.
The Indian never forgot his homeland, draping himself in a tricolour robe and matching shorts for his first fight.
Vijender admits he was nervous.
“I wasn’t worried about my opponent or anything. It was simply because I hadn’t boxed in a ring for a really long time. I had last boxed at the Commonwealth Games, and after that I had been doing my police training and then I had some film and TV commitments.”
Loneliness is a constant companion.
Moving to a new city, Manchester, and settling down to a regimented life is a sea change from his training days in Patiala.
”You feel a bit homesick. Its a bit difficult because when I was part of the Indian squad and trained in Patiala, after a session I always had someone to talk to especially after a hard days work. So I definitely miss my teammates from India. I am the only Indian boxer training here. In amateur boxing there were like 2-3 boxers with me in the changing room all the time but right now I am all alone with my trainers so there is a difference.I have to deal with these things by myself right now. But it doesn’t matter because these things usually make you tougher.”
Vijender misses his native tongue, Punjabi.
“Logon ki zuban alag hai yahan. (The language here is different). When I go to an Indian or Pakistani restaurant, the food is nice but it is a good feeling to speak to someone in Punjabi for a change.”
The Haryana police officer is not one to rest on his laurels.
He knows he has a long way to go.
“There’s still a long way to go. I have just had one fight and I have won that. I’d absolutely love to fight Floyd (Mayweather) or Manny, they are legendary boxers. They have been in this circuit for a long time and I will take time to reach at their level.”
The man certainly is making the right noises. And he has kept his end up so far.
He is the beacon who can guide Indian boxers to greater heights.
Shine on, Vijender.
It’s said about the Indian monsoon: When it rains, it pours.
Indian sport has been enjoying a monsoon of sorts over the past few years.
It’s been showering leagues.
The mushrooming of leagues in various sports and their live telecast whereby converts to games other than cricket are drawn in can only be good news for Indian sport persons.
The latest entrants into the fray are the Pro Wrestling League and the Indian Boxing Council.
While the Pro Wrestling League is launched under the aegis of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) by Pro Sportify and consists of six city-based franchises each featuring 11 freestyle grapplers, six male and five female, the Indian Boxing Council acts as a licensee for promoters wishing to launch boxing leagues of their own across the country.
The council is, however, not affiliated to the Indian Boxing Federation which means that pugilists wishing to represent the country will stay out until the murkiness around the venture is cleared.
Boxers, who are past their prime, but still fighting fit are enthusiastic about the possibilities. It will add to their meager earnings from the sport.
Boxing and wrestling are sports that attract participants from lower-middle class families. This may just be their ticket out.
These sports are also the country’s best avenues for medals at the Olympic and Asian games.
The better the prospects for aspiring contenders, the better the training facilities offered and the more attractive a career it is.
The world can be their oyster. Can Indian pearls seize their chances?
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.
Deepika Padukone is a sports lover, biopics or no biopics.
What she said:
“It’s nice that so many biopics are being made, and they are leading to more awareness. But why do we have to wait for a movie to learn more about the sportsperson or sport? It just shows that we don’t encourage our athletes enough.”
Bollywood actor, Deepika Padukone, feels that the big screen should not be the sole medium via which sports stars are lionised for the public.
“If we start writing and talking about them early in their careers, it will be much easier to create awareness about various sports and their champions. Also, I feel the media has a huge part to play in making people aware of our champions. It’s not just cricket, we have so many other sports.”
Deepika is the daughter of former shuttler, Prakash Padukone, the first Indian player to win the All-England Open. He is widely rated India’s best male badminton player ever.
On the Mary Kom biopic:
“But people didn’t know who Mary was. Four-five years back, I think she was a three-time world champion. Now, she is four- or five-time world champion. So, when Priyanka (Chopra) did the film, I thought it would be great as everyone would get to know her.”
What she really meant:
“I’m not just a pretty face, you know. I have sporting genes. That I chose to become a model and actress instead is beside the point.”
What she definitely didn’t:
“Now if I’d only known that I wouldn’t have to wear prosthetic makeup for ‘Mary Kom’, I’d have done the picture in a blink of an eye.”
What she said:
“Today, I can beat (up) anyone, it feels great.”
Actress and pop diva Priyanka Chopra confesses that she draws some satisfaction from her new-found ability to physically match almost anyone post training for the title role of her latest film, ‘Mary Kom’.
Chopra was all laughs claiming that building the muscles for the role “tired her”.
“But it was worth it! Building muscles can’t make you feel empowered, but stronger. I did! I have lost all my muscle now, but I still feel strong. I still believe I have those muscles. Muscles are a very superficial thing. What they did for me, honestly, was being able to learn a sport. I’ve never learnt a sport in my life. That too a contact sport. For me, it was a huge challenge to learn an entire sport. Today, you can put me in a boxing ring. I may not be able to beat another boxer, but I’ll be able to give her a tough fight. I’ve learnt it that much.”
The thespian now believes that every woman should learn some form of self-defence.
“I think girls should be able to do what they want, be free and not be worried about protecting themselves. But I think that in the world that we live in today, unless the laws that have been made to protect us have been implemented well enough, we should learn some form of self-defence just for confidence. You may not be able to beat a guy who’s coming at you, but you’ll be able to put up a fight. And that can really scare some people off. So, with that, you will be able to put up a fight, and say, ‘You cannot take advantage of me’. For some, that power comes from the gym. But one has to find an individual source. For me, it came from being agile, from learning this new sport.”
Meanwhile, Mary Kom, was all praise for Priyanka Chopra’s work in the biopic.
“Priyanka did a great job. I am very happy for her. She is the best person to fit in the role.Priyanka did hard work, and you can see the muscles.”
The five-time World champion believes that her sport—boxing— should be promoted like kabaddi and soccer.
“If people like it (film) then it could happen. Promotion is necessary. Just like kabbadi and football. The country is getting medals in individual sports like archery, weightlifting, wrestling, and with promotion more medals could come in future.”
What Priyanka Chopra really meant:
“Now, I can get my own back on anybody who messes with me—by knocking them flat on their backs. ‘Chops’ is for real.”
What she definitely didn’t:
“Watch out, Laila Ali—here I come.”
What he said:
"My fans are very happy because they thought I won."
Filipino boxing superstar,Manny Pacquiao, reacts to his split-decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez.
It was the third match-up between the two fighters.
What he really meant:
What he definitely didn’t:
“Floyd Mayweather Jr., here I come.”
What he said:
In my opinion, Mayweather is a chicken. He is doing everything to avoid me just as he did everything to avoid fighting Manny Pacquiao. I don’t want to sound cocky or arrogant but I believe the real reason for Mayweather avoiding me is that he knows I have his number. Mayweather knows if he ever fights me his ‘zero’ will go.
Amir Khan is spoiling for a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. The unified WBA and IBF world champion would like to end Mayweather’s streak of 39 unbeaten bouts.
What he really meant:
“I’m merely upholding the long-held tradition of trash-talking my opponent before a match-up.It makes for great copy in the press.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Run, chicken, run.”