Vijender Singh interview: I never think I’ve done enough
Looking forward to his first professional boxing bout in almost a year-and-a-half, Vijender Singh speaks about training amid the pandemic, pro boxing in India and more.
Vijender Singh was last seen in action in November, 2019.
Looking forward to his first professional boxing bout in almost a year-and-a-half, Vijender Singh is training with former India team mate Jai Bhagwan and a bunch of raw talent from hinterland Haryana for a fight on a cruise ship in Goa on March 19.
Vijender, the reigning WBO Oriental Super Middleweight and WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight champion, last fought against former Commonwealth champion Charles Adamu of Ghana in November 2019.
The former Worlds and Olympics bronze medallist, who has an unbeaten 12-0 record in pro boxing, beat the odds posed by the pandemic to return to the ring.
Vijender spoke to Sportstar about his upcoming fight. Excerpts:
Q: Tell us something about your upcoming fight. You are boxing on a ship.
A: I could not fight for almost one-and-a-half years due to the pandemic. This time we are going to Goa as there were a lot of restrictions in Delhi due to COVID and Mumbai was under lockdown. We have decided to do the fight on a big ship on March 19. Only a limited number of people can come and it will be streamed live.
How different has been your preparation this time?
This time I am sparring and training with young boxers from Bhiwani, Faridabad and Jhajjar. Jai Bhagwan, an Arjuna awardee who boxed with me, became my coach as no one could come from outside and we had to do the fight. He is a friend and has spent a lot of time with me in the National camp. He knows me better than other coaches.
I am doing more hard training than what I used to do in the UK or the USA. The young boxers are coming with the mindset to knock me out. I will miss my coach Lee (Beard) and team, though. But we hope to do some magic. I hope something new and different will happen this time.
Can you tell us more about the young boxers?
These boys are National champions, Asian medallists. They travel in a vehicle for an hour and train with me (at Gurugram). Today we had an eight-round sparring. We start our training at 11 O’clock. I spar for two rounds with someone, three rounds with another boxer and three more rounds with another. We shuffle and it is different. In the UK it was different, we used to go somewhere to fight with some boxers and fight with them. There the variety was less, but here the variety is more – super heavy, heavy, cruiser and smaller weights.
How did you spend your time, away from boxing, during the lockdown?
I spend time with my family. If you have two kids, it's a 24-hour job. Every time they will do something different, some crazy thing. I am always busy with them. I did a lot of online videos and cult shoots. I have a small gym at home, so I do treadmill, cycling, skipping, push-ups and skipping. A boxer does not need big space, a small area is enough.
How do you train alone when you don’t have a fight?
I know that I am a professional boxer and I should maintain my fitness. I know I have to go to the ring after a gap of a few months. I have to train every day. In amateur boxing, you stay in the camp for five-six months and get one tournament. Here after two-three months, we get a fight. After this (Goa fight), we hope to get a fight in May or June. Let's see how things work out. Professional boxing is all about you. People pay you because you are a boxer who should maintain your fitness and record. That's why they put money on you. You need to just stay fit, stay healthy and eat properly.
Is not there any dearth in motivation?
I have Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield as role models. If they can do it (for a long time), why can’t I? Mary Kom is still fighting. It's more of a positive attitude. I never think I’ve done enough.
What’s your target in Goa?
I am going for a win. It has been one-and-a-half years without a fight . I want to do proper boxing.
What’s next for you? Have you planned your career?
As I said after this we may go to the US or somewhere else in May or June. Nothing is confirmed yet, but I know what's happening in my career.
What do you think is the reason behind pro boxing in general not doing well in India?
A lot of things. Economy, where it is right now, business is going down. It's all about money. How will we make money? It's all about business. It’s all about the brand.
According to you, what are the chances of Indian boxers in the Tokyo Olympics?
Their chances are bright. What I heard from some boxers, they are getting more exposure. I hope they will come up with some different result from that of the last Olympics. They will do better.