Vijender Singh keeps Olympic dream alive

Vijender Singh was keen to have another chance of Olympic glory after professional fighters were cleared to compete at the upcoming games in Rio

Indian boxing hero Vijender Singh said on Monday that he was keen to have another chance of Olympic glory after professional fighters were cleared to compete at the upcoming games in Rio.

Singh, who won a bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is gearing up for the WBO Asian Middleweight title bout against Australia's Kerry Hope in New Delhi on July 16 after turning pro last year.

But Singh, who has featured in the last three Olympics, told reporters that last week's ruling from boxing's governing body had rekindled his hopes of representing his country once more in August.

"I will try and make it to the Games in Rio. I had given up on it but my Olympic dreams have resurfaced come the Rio Games," Singh told a press conference in the Indian capital. "Now that the wall between professional and amateur boxing has broken and I am getting a chance to represent my country then why will I not dream of getting there?"

Singh's comments come after the International Boxing Association removed restrictions on professionals competing at 'amateur' events such as the Olympics at an extraordinary congress last Tuesday.

The 30-year-old became a national hero eight years ago when he became the first Indian to win a boxing medal at the Olympics and he has made a perfect start to his professional career, winning all six of his fights.

If he wants to automatically qualify for Rio then he will have to compete in a series of qualifiers in Venezuela in July, only a remote possibility given his bout against Hope in the middle of the month.

But he could also in theory be chosen as a wildcard entry. Singh's British-based promoter Francis Warren, who signed the super middleweight on a four-year deal in June 2015, sounded less than enthusiastic about the idea of his fighter going to Brazil.

"I think Vijender is entitled to have his views on it," he said.

"Youngsters who are at the Olympics deserve that chance to shine in their own right. So let amateurs be amateurs and professionals be professionals."

Speaking about his bout against Hope, Singh said he was confident of continuing his 100 percent record as a pro.

"I hope I get done with Kerry in the same manner that I have won my previous six bouts and go home early," Singh said before the face-off between the boxers.

Hope, who has a 23-7 record in his 30 pro fights so far, was dismissive of his opponent, whom he said had been "fighting tin cans" until now.

"He is a superstar in India but to me he is just a boxer. I have trained, sparred, fought at the highest level possible in boxing," said the former middleweight European champion.

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