From my boyhood days, I have had one dream: to meet Sachin Tendulkar.

And that dream came true when we went to Dubai for the Celebrity Badminton League. He was the ambassador, but we didn’t know for sure if he was coming. When we heard that he was there, all of us got a little excited. The fan in me came alive when the organisers came to our room and said that the cricketer had given time for us. I immediately raised my hand like a little kid.

When I saw him, it was a total fan moment. Memories of my childhood cricket-watching experiences came rushing to me, even as we shook hands and spoke. Though I have grown up watching the popular sport, I have, of late, come to love boxing. It’s a beautiful sport and there’s immense talent in Tamil Nadu. All they need is a push and recognition, and I’m trying my best to do that.

One of the ways is attempting a film on the sport, and I’m doing that with my upcoming Tamil film, titled Boxer. For this, I watched quite a bit of Thai boxing bouts in Vietnam and trained under an expert who is an accomplished mixed martial arts boxer.

For this film, I trained at a place in Vietnam. One day, I spotted the owner of the place, drinking tea, and I asked my trainer (Sandeep) who the person was. He told me that it was Johnny Tri Nguyen, the villain of Suriya-starrer Tamil film 7aum Arivu. I was so surprised that he had built such a huge monastery of sorts in the middle of the city to train martial artists and boxers. I learnt that he’s a big hero in Vietnam, but also followed the passion of his grandfather, who was a big martial arts expert. During my stay there, we interacted a lot about life in general, and his ideas about how to live was so simple and inspiring. He kept telling me: ‘We all have to be content somewhere.’ I will treasure the times I spent with him.

Arun Vijay is an Indian film actor.

As told to Srinivasa Ramanujam