Vijender Singh on what made him an Olympic medallist

The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, now a professional boxer, said the path to Beijing was full of twists and turns and finally hard work and honesty paid off. 

By Subhayan Dutta

Veteran Indian boxer and Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh is always happy to take the hard road. Even if it brings him pain along the way.

The Bhiwani boxer, whose Olympic medal at Beijing 2008 was India’s first in the discipline, told Indian table tennis player Mudit Dani during an Instagram chat that ‘honesty pays’.

“Once there was a 30km run in training and we had to reach a place from Bhiwani. I had come last and my coach had hit me with a stick.

“There were the other boys who took lifts but I ran the whole distance. I was very angry, but I did not take any shortcuts. I could at least tell the world that I completed 30kms.

“Life is not easy. Just be patient and do your hard work,” the middleweight boxer told Dani.

Vijender Singh reveals his real test was qualifying for the Beijing Olympics 

Reality check before Beijing

Vijender, who turned professional in 2015, after winning plenty of accolades in amateur boxing, feels he has learnt a lot from his defeats.

After his 2004 Olympics campaign in Athens had ended in the first round, Vijender Singh had emerged as one a strong contender prior to the Beijing Games.

A bronze medal at the 2006 Asian Games, a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and a silver at the 2007 Asian championships had made Vijender Singh the stand out hope of Indian boxing.

However, he struggled to get a similar success at the Olympic qualifiers.

“I believe losing teaches you more than winning,” Vijender Singh said. “In 2007, when we were in Chicago (World Boxing Championship), I lost in the first round.

“Everyone believed I was a sure-shot medallist, and all were saying Viju (Vijender Singh) will qualify in the first qualifier.

“There was a lot of pressure after I lost the first qualifier, even more after losing the second in Bangkok.

“I thought about my last chance while training at the Patiala camp and worked hard,” he said.

Vijender Singh went on to qualify in the second Asian qualification tournament in Kazakhstan, before going all the way to win a bronze medal at the Beijing Games.

The 34-year-old is currently at home waiting to get back to the professional boxing scene. Signed by Top Rank Promotions, he is eyeing a bout in the United States in the next few months .