Can Vijender, Akhil and Jitender do it again?

These three Haryana cops, who were last seen in action in an event in the 2009 World championships in Milan (where Vijender became the first Indian male boxer to land a Worlds medal), have come together again to fight as professionals in Mumbai on Saturday.

Vijender Singh (centre), Akhil Kumar (riht) and Jitender Kumar’s friendship go back a long way.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

For Akhil Kumar and his long-time friend Jitender Kumar, nine-year-old memories of a joyous reception at the I.G.I. Airport in Delhi following their fine showing in the Beijing Olympics are still fresh.

Both reached the Olympics quarterfinals and Vijender Singh went one step ahead to claim a historic bronze medal as millions of sports-lovers got attracted towards boxing. It also inspired other pugilists to aspire for bigger goals.

These three Haryana cops, who were last seen in action in an event in the 2009 World championships in Milan (where Vijender became the first Indian male boxer to land a Worlds medal), have come together again to fight as professionals in Mumbai on Saturday.

Vijender has already made a start, while Akhil and Jitender are ready to make their debut.

Will the trio be able to provide the sport a fillip on a different platform?

“What happened in 2008 was because of our efforts and the media’s generous publicity. The face of pro boxing has also changed with the International Boxing Association (AIBA) relaxing rules. The event in Mumbai is a big one. Hope it takes professional boxing forward in our country,” said 36-year-old Akhil, a World Cup bronze medallist and a Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

“All boxers are not going to win medals at the highest stage. If professional boxing is doing well, then they get another outlet,” argues Akhil.

Jitender, who last donned the gloves in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) in 2011, hopes that professional boxing gets a boost in India. “After the Beijing Olympics, boxing became popular and we got what we desired for. India, which was a lesser known country in amateur boxing, got reckoned as a formidable force.

“It was not easy for me to get back to training after so many years. But I did that with a positive attitude and would be happy if I contribute in popularising professional boxing,” said 29-year-old Jitender.

Vijender has his own way of looking at it. “Boxing is not a team sport. It is about the boxer who is in the ring. It is about you. If you prove yourself, then people love you. If you do well, the sport gets popular,” said the 31-year-old, who has remained unbeaten in his eight professional fights so far.

For ardent boxing fans, the occasion will be nothing short of a treat.