Earlier this week, Indian boxing sensation and Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh announced his decision to quit amateur boxing to pursue professional boxing career. The Bhiwani boxer has divided the opinions of fans and pundits alike, with some acknowledging his decision as a step up, while others criticizing the same for obvious monetary benefits associated with the move.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics hero, who became the first-ever Indian to win a medal in boxing at the Olympics, has signed a multi-year promotional agreement with one of the largest promotions firms in Queensberry Promotions. The deal was arranged by his managing company IOS Sports & Entertainment, with whom the 29-year-old signed recently and had previously worked for close to four years.
As part of this lucrative deal, Vijender will have to participate in a minimum of six bouts in his first year, with the first bout scheduled as early as September this year. The 29-year-old will begin his rigorous training in Manchester at the Queensberry Promotions’ club.
The road less traveled ?
Although, Indian boxers are yet to achieve fame in the professional circuit, Vijender is determined to buckle the trend and open a new path for amateur Indian boxers to follow. The Asian Games Gold medalist has proved on multiple occasions that he can come good when the odds are stacked against him as was seen in the Beijing Olympics. It is something which was acknowledged by AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Federation), when he climbed to the top of the rankings in the middleweight category.
Earlier this year, one of professional boxing’s biggest bouts took place between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, which the American won by unanimous decision and whose prize money of approximately $300 million was split between the two. This shows the stratospheric amount of money involved in professional boxing, and Vijender had boldly claimed at that time, that he could put up a decent show against the enigmatic American, something which might become a reality at a later point of time.
India’s hopes for 2016 Rio Games?
With the departure of Vijender, the Indian Boxing contingent preparing for the Rio Olympics has surely suffered a huge loss. But, saying India has let an Olympics medal slip away is a bit too much, actually. This is because Vijender has been ably replaced by 23-year-old fellow Bhivani boxer, Vikas Krishan.
Vikas is not new to Olympics having already participated in the London games of 2012 and will look to make the most of his opportunities. The Southpaw was crowned the World Youth Amateur Boxing Champion in 2010 and recently won a bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games in South Korea, where he deputized for the then injured Vijender Singh.
Vijender’s live training session in Mumbai
Vijender is set to commence full training in the United Kingdom, but the ace pugilist put on a glimpse of what he would be doing in a live training session on Wednesday in Mumbai.
The live training session would prove crucial for Vijender to build a solid fan-base in a cricket-mad nation, where other games are struggling in finding viewership.
“I trained under Lee in the UK last month,” Vijender said. “This session, in front of a crowd of boxing lovers, was exciting and everyone here showed their support for me.”
Hopefully, Vijender will have a glittering career in professional boxing, and the Indian audience will start looking out for professional boxing matches to cheer for an Indian boxer. Best of luck, Vijender!