How Shiv Singh taught Vijender Singh to open his eyes and win an Olympic medal

Wary of getting hit on the offence, Vijender Singh found a solution from veteran boxing coach and Dronacharya awardee Shiv Singh.

By Naveen Peter

There’s barely anyone who’s seen Vijender Singh’s rise the way Shiv Singh has.

The veteran coach was with the Indian boxing set up when Vijender Singh impressed on the national stage and broke into the Indian squad.

Though his youthful exuberance helped Vijender Singh standout among the best during his early days at the international stage, the talented boxer from Bhiwani would often be on the receiving end of punishment.

Frustrated with the pain, Vijender Singh chose to approach Shiv Singh to find a way out.

“One day, I sat him down and asked why?” Shiv Singh told the Olympic Channel. “He had no idea. He was trying to figure out why he was getting hit even when he was dominating. But, luckily I did.

“It’s the thing about sitting by the ringside. You watch the bout from a different point of view. You pick up these things.

“I told him, ‘because you close your eyes every time you go in.’ He refused to believe me,” Shiv Singh, who became a Dronacharya awardee earlier this year, said before breaking into a laugh.

Boxing coach Shiv Singh (centre) was conferred the Dronacharya Award (Lifetime) this year. Photo: BFI

Shiv Singh’s insight

While the coach didn’t force his opinion on the then young Vijender Singh then, he was present ringside when the Indian boxer returned for training the next day.

“Next time he was in the ring sparring, I stopped him mid-way and asked him to observe his movements. Whenever he would lean in, his eyes would close. That let the opponent land the punch. That’s when he realised,” Shiv Singh said.

“Now, we knew that there was a gap to be filled. I helped with some suggestions and asked him to go on the back foot every time he felt he would get hit.”

Shiv Singh had realised the issue and found a way to help Vijender Singh - who went on to become an Olympic medallist - negate the punch. But he didn’t stop there.

“There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ in boxing. You need to alter and find ways for each of them,” Shiv Singh noted.

“I told him that the process would take time and cannot yield results immediately. But if this technique didn’t work, I had a Plan B as well. We could try to duck after (throwing) the second punch and get out of the way.

“Looks like he mastered that skill,” Shiv Singh pointed out.