Vijender wants to be a real trail-blazer!

"I have participated for my country in three Olympics and I think it was the right time for me to switch over to pro boxing and give a chance to my fellow boxers like Vikas (Krishan) to perform and get medals for our country. In the professional circuit I will also be known as an Indian boxer. If I win, everyone will say Indian boxer Vijender Singh wins."

Vijender Singh before his bout against England's Sonny Whiting.   -  PTI

Vijender trains at a gym in Manchester in preparation for his second professional bout.   -  PTI

After jumping over the first hurdle, professional middleweight boxer Vijender Singh is faced with the next challenge.

Vijender, who made an impact with his convincing debut win against British boxer Sonny Whiting in the Manchester Arena earlier this month, is awaiting a tougher opponent in the Harrow Leisure Centre, London, on October 30.

“I have fantastic memories of when I boxed in London at the Olympics, representing India as the captain of the boxing team. It was an amazing spectacle and occasion,” said Vijender ahead of his much-anticipated fight.

The promoters have put out a poster featuring the well-known Indian pugilist in the backdrop of a Tricolour and Vijender is keen to continue with his ecstatic journey by giving another power-packed performance.

“I was at the Boxing Writers’ Dinner in London and met some of the great fighters who were world middleweight champions, such as Nigel Benn and Alan Minter. One day I aim to be a world champion like them.”

Finding some time from his tight schedule and tough training sessions in the UK, Vijender shared his experience of his first ever fight in pro boxing and went on to speak about the targets he has set to achieve in this tough sport.

Excerpts from the interview:

Question: Why does pro boxing attract you?

Answer: I was following professional boxing since the time I started my career as an amateur. After spending almost 16-17 years in amateur boxing, I have achieved a lot, including an Olympic medal and a World Championship medal, for my country. Now, in the professional ring, I want to do something for India and for the young boxers. That was the reason I joined professional boxing. I have made a decent start in the pro circuit by winning my debut fight. I believe that if I do well here it will give new hope to young Indian boxers. Pro boxing has a very bright future and it will be good for our country.

Do you have any regret that you cannot fight in the Olympics any more?

I have participated for my country in three Olympics and I think it was the right time for me to switch over to pro boxing and give a chance to my fellow boxers like Vikas (Krishan) to perform and get medals for our country. In the professional circuit I will also be known as an Indian boxer. If I win, everyone will say Indian boxer Vijender Singh wins. So, I want to achieve something for my country in professional boxing.

For a layman, what is the difference between amateur boxing and pro boxing?

There is a lot of difference. Firstly, there is a big difference between the number of rounds. Amateur boxing has three-round bouts, but in the pro section you start with four rounds and go up to 12 rounds. Besides, some technical differences are also there.

What are the differences in training methods between amateur and pro boxing?

In professional boxing, training is very hard. I come to the gym in the morning around 10 a.m. and leave around 4.30 p.m. Besides the gym session, there is sparring and physical workout. There is a lot of mental training which is also essential.

How much of it is psychological?

It is all about mental and physical strength. The more you are mentally prepared, the more it helps in reading your opponent and catching his weak points.

Has the exposure made you mentally tougher and more aggressive?

Yes. It is the beginning, but I believe that my amateur experience has helped me a lot in the first fight. Definitely (mental trainer) Lee Beard has changed me now. I have become mentally stronger.

Any feedback from your family, friends and fans back home and in your village? What is the best compliment you have received so far?

My family was very happy with my performance. I was very happy with the kind of response I have received from my friends, fans etc. on social media. I would like to thank the Indian media for supporting me from the beginning when I took the decision to turn professional. I have received a lot of compliments, I don’t want to highlight any of them specifically. I was very happy to see people from the Indian community to have come to the Manchester Arena to support me.

After realising your dream of turning pro and winning the first bout what goes through your mind and what do you want to achieve in pro boxing?

The first thing that came to my mind after winning the first bout was ‘Vijender, yeh tere liye ek shuruwat hai, abhi asli jeet baki hai’ (Vijender, this is just the beginning. The real victory is yet to come). I want to be a champion one day.

How do you see the status of Indian pro boxing changing in the next five years?

I think you will see a big change in India in the next year. This is just the beginning and many boxers are ready to join professional boxing. By next year I am sure professional boxing will start in India with the plan on which Neerav and his team are working.

How do you approach your next bout scheduled on October 30?

After one day of rest I have joined my training here in UK. Now the training is going on to make me much more tough, as I have little time before the next fight. I am looking forward to it and will be working harder this time.