The setting was just right for Vijender Singh to showcase his punches! Amidst deafening applause, loud music, cheers and cheerleaders, the Olympic Games bronze-medallist came out trumps, clinching his maiden gold in the Commonwealth Boxing Championships on Wednesday.
Vijender was not the only one rejoicing at the refurbished Talkatora Indoor Stadium. The hosts stamped their class, bagging six gold, which till date is the biggest haul in the Championships.
“Finally, I have done it,” said Vijender. “I’ve never heard the National Anthem being played for me. It was really heartening to hear it today,” said the Bhiwani boxer, who beat England's Frank Buglioni in the 75kg category.
It was a day when the National Anthem was replayed six times, and each time the applause grew louder, till the stadium got drowned in the roar. India bettered their record of four gold, two silver and three bronze, they had achieved in Scotland in 2005.
Asian bronze-medallist Paramjeet Samota (+91), Asian champion Suranjoy Singh (52kg), World Cup bronze-medallist Dinesh Kumar (81kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg) and Amandeep Singh (49kg) were the other gold-medallists.
The first Indian to enter the ring and come out with a gold round his neck was Samota. Amandeep, Suranjoy, Bhagwan followed suit.
But the one man they all waited with bated breath to see was Vijender. Halfway into the bout, Buglioni landed a sucker punch on Vijender’s face, which left the Indian with a bloodied nose. But the 24-year-old Bhiwani boxer remained unperturbed. He came back strongly, landing sharp punches and outclassing his opponent 13-3.
“I was scared the bout would be stopped. Thankfully, I was declared medically unfit. The blood kept oozing from my nose. I was constantly looking at the judges to see what they might do,” said Vijender, who was also adjudged the best boxer of the Championships.
Speaking about his injury, the champion said, “I will have to consult a doctor, but so far it just looks like a swelling.
“After the win, I am happy and more confident that our preparations for the Commonwealth Games are going really well,” he said.
Suranjoy defeated his Mauritian rival, Oliver Lavigi, in 25 seconds. The Manipuri boxer landed a punch so hard that his opponent was floored. “I never imagined it would be so easy.” Overwhelmed by the support, Suranjoy said: “It was a night to remember. I hope we keep getting this kind of support.”
Haka in boxing game
As Paramjeet Samota was getting ready to face Kiwi opponent Joseph Parkar, the action shifted to the sidelines. The NZ team came down and climbed up the broad divide separating the rink and the stands and started performing Haka.
Common on a rugby pitch, the crowd was overjoyed to see the provoking Maori dance. The cops, however, weren’t expecting it. Not knowing what they were performing, a bunch of cops ran towards the players to pull them down. Amused, the Kiwis nodded but did not budge until the ritual was over.