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Vijender calls it quits

Vijender calls it quits
Vijender Singh needs no introduction. The middleweight boxer is also an Olympic silverware winner and most recently has elected to continue his boxing journey over as a professional. When this happened on June 29th, it was a major blow to the Indian Olympic Federation. Gupta was touted as one of the strongest contenders to reclaim his Olympic medal and claim more laurels for the country. 

Soon after this news was released a tsunami of shock erupted within the apex boxing authority. The authority has not failed to remind the athlete that abandoning the authority’s patronage will be treated as treason and in future will serve as a precedent for self-centered athletes who are only willing to play for money instead of trying to bring the nation glory. The perfunctory response of the central boxing authority towards Vijender can be gleaned from the fact that they chose not to send Vijender with dignity and support. This despite the fact that whenever he has represented the nation, he has only brought medals and laurels in return. He has all but retired from the amateur boxing ranks thus effectively eliminating him from the Olympic squad which would represent India in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

He will commence his professional training with Queensberry Promotions, a training stable with a solid reputation in Manchester, United Kingdom, where he earlier went for a reconnaissance in order to assess the amenities there. Post that trip, like a speeding freight train, he has decided to derail himself from the amateur track and switch to the professional track to try the calibre of  his fists in the professional arena. Francis Warren, head of Queensberry Promotions, greeted Vijender and wished him luck with his decision to turn pro. When asked about the addition to his club, he said “ I’m very excited to have brought such a talented and determined individual over to the UK and can’t wait to see what Vijender is capable of doing in the professional ranks after achieving so much as an amateur.” To become quickly proficient at his new job, he has been assigned to train under Lee Beard, who has previously worked with British boxing legend, Ricky Hatton. Beard has also been mentoring and guiding the WBO International and European Light Welterweight Champion Jack Catterall. Beard has also been involved with titans of the game such <g data-gr-id="101">as,</g> Joe Costello and Raza Hamza. 

Vijender Singh has, starting by being on the podium of the pentagonal circle competition to embark the historic moment to make the national anthem echo in the boxing arena for the first time in history. A man who made history for the country should be in considerably allowed to do so if he chooses to change the nature of his game and as every other athlete, Vijender has earned the respect to claim his right to play for himself. It’s not profane to play for fame or money and add more stars on your blazer. According to the India’s best boxer Akhil Kumar and the renowned journalist for Wisden India, “you cannot look at his decision as disrespect towards the country. It is his life and it has to be his decision. I can’t read his mind as to why he turned pro, but surely after years of fighting so well for the country, he has the right to take this call”. Even the World Champion Floyd Mayweather participated in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and won bronze before emerging as the richest athlete till date. It’s another matter that the World Boxing Organisation stripped Floyd of his welterweight title.

An ambition to be world recognised cannot be taken as an act of a selfless person. Also, the million dollar recent fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao earlier this year is the speculated reason, due to which Vijender Singh quit the amateur format. While all these speculations were rising, one has completely forgotten a fundamental fact: that it’s Vijender himself who inadvertently confessed his deep desire to play at the professional level some years back.

In this format of the game the rules and the point, the allocation is very different from the amateur level which will make his journey far more difficult. The absence of headgear is the least of his problems. With an increased number of rounds from 4 rounds of three minutes each to 12 rounds of three minutes each, tells you the gruelling nature of the game. This is unlike the amateur level where hooks with less power would lead you to the medal. According to the pact between Vijender and his promoters, Vijender will appear in six fights over the year. This is an unlikely scenario according to Venkatesan Devarajan, an ex-boxer, who believes, it will be a stern test for Vijender to transition from the amateur background and appear in  a six brutal impact fights. He should probably start with a realistic two fights to let him grow as a professional gradually without hurting his body beyond bounds. Even according to his to be <g data-gr-id="106">trainer</g> in Manchester, kids turn professional at the age of 18 and Vijender being one short of the thirties is a factor which can go against him. However, his experience at the amateur level will help him compensate for his loss in speed and stamina. Devarajan also believes that it is an appropriate decision for him to turn pro but he should have done this right after the 2008 Olympics so as to match the level but holds no doubt about the effort he is going to put in to get the best of himself.

Vijender is still trying to resolve his outstanding issues with the Haryana Government regarding his job in Police. Manohar Lal Khattar, the incumbent Chief Minister has instructed that athletes who come under sports quota should serve the force for the minimum stipulated time period of six years. This will probably be the path to follow for upcoming athletes, win for the country, serve till you reside in the country but when it comes to earning more fame and money on the international stage, it’s better to leave. <g data-gr-id="112">Marry</g> Kom has voiced her thoughts on this issue. She has expressed her pride over the fact that someone from India is up against the world’s best. This will help to bring more recognition to the sport along with sponsoring the sport in India so as to attract more athletes towards it. The attitude from the athletes should teach the authority to respect the decision of their most decorated and celebrated boxer of all times. If it was for cricket to participate in the Olympics then it would have come as no surprise if the authorities forced Sachin Tendulkar to sign a legal consent so that he could never decide to quit out of his own free will.

It is erroneous to assume that Vijendra Singh’s decision to go professional means he doesn’t care for India. It is perhaps instructive that some people think that Vijender Singh going pro equates with him not caring for national glory anymore. This is a wholly incorrect assumptionActually going professional is best gift Vijendra Singh can give to India, given that he has already brought glory to the country. The hard cold truth is that winning games professionally is the best way  Indians would stand up and take notice of a sport. That is how winning the world Cup did to cricket in India.Besides  the money, fame and glamour involved are the extra perks of playing professionally and Indians love to follow and play  a game when performance and glitz are melded seamlessly into one. Just take a look at what the Indian Premier League did for cricket.

Look at what Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin  did to raise the profile of Basketball in China. Manny Pacquiao was the one who heralded the rise of professional boxing in the minds of the people in Philippines and his elevation into the echelons of boxing , made many young Filipinos take up the sport with gusto, unlike before. This proves someone playing professional sports  can do much good for the home country. Vijendra Singh had long-festering issues with the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (AIBF), an institution that was banned by the amateur boxing’s international body in 2012 after reports of “manipulation” in the IABF elections came to light. Just like BCCI, AIBF is mired with corruption and other scandals that would have killed his any attempt to develop as a sportsperson. He knew such mismanagement has destroyed many sportsperson’s careers and his decision to go professional now even makes more sense. In this regard, Vijender’s reply  to those who say he is unpatriotic is quite instructive. “Just like how Pacquiao carried the Philippines 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”

However, such valid arguments in favor of him going pro, fall on deaf ears of many in India. Haryana police have already evicted him for apparent dereliction of duty.It’s interesting that we do not see any such criticisms when Dhoni makes crores of rupees playing professional cricket and still retains his job at Indian Railways and Territorial army. What is it about Vijendra Singh that makes others treat him so differently?

So let us keep calm and cheer for Vijendra Singh when he steps into the ring as a professional boxer. He needs our wishes, prayers and support. Here’s hoping that he makes it big in the ring.

Name: Vijender Singh
From: Bhiwani, Haryana
Age: 29
Height: 182 CM

Beijing Olympic Bronze Medallist
Asian Games Gold Medallist
Former World No. 1


VOICES


It is really very surprising for me. I am in a state of shock because I never expected this would happen- <div style="display: inline !important;"><div style="display: inline !important;">Gurbax Singh Sandhu
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Vijender turning pro is his decision... he has after all won so many medals for the country. I respect whatever he is doing- M. C Marry Kom
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I was surprised at the level at which he was able to train-Lee Beard

You cannot look at his decision as disrespect towards the country. It is his life and it has to be his decision-Akhil Kumar

He should have taken this decision immediately after his 2008 Olympics-Venkatesan Devarajan

I’m very excited to have brought such a talented and determined individual over to the UK and can’t wait to see what he is capable of doing-Francis Warren
Shubham Malaviya

Shubham Malaviya

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