An Olympic berth is not on Vijender Singh’s mind anymore. The boxing ace, who clinched a bronze medal at the Beijing Games in 2008, has made it clear that at the moment, his major target is to succeed at the professional boxing circuit.

“I am happy with my professional boxing. I featured in three Olympics, now, I want to go to the big league and aim for the world title,” Vijender told Sportstar during an Instagram Live Session on Thursday.

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Ever since entering the professional circuit in 2015, Vijender has remained unbeaten. He was, in fact, gearing up for his next professional bout in May, but things came to a halt due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “Things were almost finalised. I was scheduled to go abroad for training, but everything came to a halt. UK and USA are in a bad shape. I hope things improve,” he said.

“At the moment, it is important to stay at home with the family and stay safe. This will go on for long. These are challenging times for sure, but we need to stay motivated,” the 34-year-old boxing ace said.

'Things will change'

Having trained in Los Angeles and Manchester in the past, Vijender knows how challenging it gets for an athlete to be all alone, far away from home. “In professional boxing, there is no one to spoon feed you. The coaches and trainers give you a schedule, which you need to follow. You have to encourage yourself. In pro boxing, there are long 12-14 round bouts, so there are long training sessions. It gets lonely at times, but you have to stay focused and stay positive,” he said.

And those experiences have helped him immensely. At a time when the athletes are stuck at home due to the lockdown, Vijender has a piece of advice for the young pugilists. “Don’t go out, it’s not safe. Just isolate yourself and store all your energy. Things will change, so you need to wait for the right opportunity. Once the situation improves, you will have enough time to show your skills, but right now, you must stay home and do a bit of meditation to keep yourself motivated,” he stated.

Vijender, Manoj help raise funds for ailing Dingko Singh  

“That’s something even I am doing these days. When you are busy with the family, you don’t need anything else. I wake up late, have my breakfast, watch shows on Netflix. But I also train in the evening, and that’s important,” Vijender said.

While he is spending quality time with the family, Vijender and some of his old friends have also come forward to help Asian Games gold-winning boxer, Dingko Singh, who is battling liver cancer and will be flown to New Delhi on April 25.

“When we got to know about the situation, we had created a WhatsApp group. It has 55-60 boxers and some coaches -- including former chief national coach GS Sandhu. We decided to create a fund, and as of now, we have managed to raise about Rs 6 lakh, which has been transferred to his (Dingko’s) account,” Vijender said.

“As a kid, I remember watching Dingko’s Asian Games final bout on television. He is an inspiration for all of us. We will always be there for him,” Vijender said and added “we will do whatever we can. He is our true hero.”