In the ring with boxer Vijender Singh, on his unlikely journey from boxing to politics to startups
Indian boxer Vijender Singh Beniwal needs no introduction. The 34-year old rose to fame when he won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Later on, Vijender bagged bronze medals at the 2009 World Championships and 2010 Commonwealth Games, and silver medals at the 2006 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In 2010, Vijender was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest Indian civilian award, for his contribution to Indian sports. The amateur turned professional when he entered a multi-year agreement with Queensberry Promotions through IOS Sports and Entertainment in June 2015.
Vijender, who was born in the Kaluwas village of Haryana, says his childhood was spent endlessly running around, climbing trees and of course, sparring. “Being a younger child is always a privilege,” he says.
Born to a bus-driver father and a homemaker mother, Vijender was lucky to have a family who pushed him to pursue boxing. His inclination towards boxing grew as he started participating and winning in junior level competitions.
The boxing champion owes his success to his elder brother, Manoj Singh, a former boxer himself. Vijender considers Manoj his first coach. “He introduced me to boxing at a very young age. I wanted to follow his footsteps and perfect my moves,” Vijender tells YSWeekender, during a recent conversation.
The actor-turned-politician was recently made the Brand Ambassador of RummyBaazi.com, the latest venture of Baazi Games. RummyBaazi offers online rummy gaming experiences.
Edited excerpts from the conversation:
YSWeekender: It has been more than a decade since winning the Olympics bronze in 2008. How do you look back at that time?
Vijender Singh: To be honest, it all feels like a dream. I was just a youngster trying to find my feet and make my nation proud. I knew that if I made it happen, there would be no looking back for me. I am happy about what I could do for my nation.
YSW: Looking back, what was the greatest achievement or moment in your boxing career?
VS: It has to be the Olympics bronze in 2008.It feels absolutely surreal.
YSW: After boxing, were you sure that you wanted to try your luck in politics?
VS: I was sure that I wanted to serve my country in whichever way possible and make Indians proud. Politics seemed to be one of the avenues by which to fulfil my goal, so here I am.
YSW: What has been more challenging - being inside the ring or being into politics?
VS: I don't see much difference, which in a way is good for me. I will use my discipline that I have learnt over the years to knock out my political opponents and people's problems. For me, it is very important to serve my nation.
YSW: With the coronavirus pandemic cancelling most sports events, how do you think the future of boxing, and sports at large will change?
VS: At the heart of it, all sports are about overcoming difficulties, never giving up, and improvising. I am sure we are going to bounce back and work our way around the situation and come up with a solution.
YSW: What makes you support RummyBaazi?
VS: Firstly, because it is a game of skill and since you need to keep an eye on your opponent's moves, it is very much like boxing. Secondly, they have modified the age-old card game in the digital age to bring people together, and on top of that, there are so many rewards too. People will use their mobile phones to get together for a fun time. I have the fondest memories of playing Rummy with my family in the afternoons.
YSW: What’s next- personally, and professionally?
VS: I am trying to condition myself at home to stay in shape for the next fight, which would've happened at the end of the year if everything was normal. I'll make the most of this time to become stronger and agile.
Edited by Asha Chowdary