Vijender Singh believes the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the turning point for Indian boxing both in terms of creating massive awareness about the sport and also luring more number of youngsters into it.
The 27-year-old boxer from Bhiwani, who won the Olympics bronze in Beijing in the middle-weight category, said that more and more youngsters are taking up the sport now because of the consistent performances of the Indians at the highest level of late.
“Mary Kom becoming the first Indian woman boxer ever to win a medal (bronze) in the 2012 London Olympics is another major milestone which provided the desired fillip to the sport,” said Vijender, who arrived here as a special guest for the inaugural of the Senior national boxing championship.
“Definitely, many steps are being taken in the right direction to sustain the interest both by the All India Boxing Federation and also by the Government.
“But, I still feel that there is a dire need for many more boxing academies across India,” he said.
“The reason for Manipur or Haryana producing so many champion boxers is the number of academies there. Bhiwani itself has seven of them. If these are set up, I am sure boxing will be as popular as cricket in India 20 years down the line.”
Referring to the decision of the Indian team pulling out of the World Series Boxing, Vijender said that it was a disappointing move.
“No doubt, boxing to become professional in India will take years. You can’t have a sudden shift on this front. But, when such opportunities come, it may not be a bad idea to field boxers for the desired exposure. Hope things will be sorted out soon,” says the champion boxer who pulled out of last year’s edition because it clashed with the Olympic qualifiers.
‘Things are changing’
“Things are definitely changing for the good as far as Indian boxing is concerned and I sincerely hope that the young talent will make optimum use of the facilities and the exposure being given to them,” he said.
Referring to his future plans, Vijender Singh says that like many of the leading boxers he too is taking a break after the London Olympics.
“This is recovery time for all of us,” he added.
“Yes, it was disappointing to lose in the quarterfinals in London. I was very confident of winning a medal. But again, it was not for want of effort. I did try my best.
“Well winning and losing is part of sport,” he said.
“Right now, the focus for me is on the next year’s World championship (he won a bronze earlier). Then the bigger target is to win the Olympics gold in the 2016 edition in Rio.
“I don’t think moving into the 81 kg category from 75 kg is a cause of concern. I am growing and so I am aware of what I have to do,” he said.