Threat..what threat? Asks boxer Vijender Singh who promises one hell of a fight as he gears up to defend his WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title against former world and current Intercontinental Champion Francis Cheka on Saturday night at Thyagaraj Stadium here.
The Haryana pugilist has a record of seven out of seven wins, with six knockouts in 27 rounds since turning pro last year.
Not the one to put down a challenge, the boxer has been training extensively in Manchester under his coach Lee Beard.
While Francis Cheka in an interview had said ‘I will hit Vijender hard on his face that he will never think of professional boxing again’, Vijender Singh took the challenge head on.
“He (Cheka) challenged me and I accepted it.We will show them that we Indians are the best. I can say that I’m ready. And I am all set for my fight. I go in the ring, do my thing and come back.
“This is my eighth fight. He has been through many big fights. I don’t leave any weak part. We are focusing on techniques right now.”
Thyagaraj Stadium: An ‘extra special’ venue
Vijender Singh, who claimed his first title at the Thyagaraj Stadium in July this year against Australian Kerry Hope, hopes to repeat history and says the venue is ‘extra special’ and holds a special significance in his life.
“It’s my responsibility to keep fighting better and better. I got the first title there and now defending it at the same arena,” he says.
It’s been over a year now, since the boxer turned pro. Speaking on his punch perfect career and how life has changed post it, he says, “Life has changed because I left my country and I am suddenly in other world.
“I am in Manchester now. And It’s difficult for my wife, my kid and me. But we are used to it, as it’s been a year now. I wake up around 7am everyday, have breakfast, go the gym. I come back around 3, take shower and go to sleep. That’s my routine.”
As for his thoughts on other boxers such as Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar turning pro?
“Initially everybody thinks, ‘Should I do it or should I not’. Bus shuruwat karna difficult hota hai India mein. When I turned pro, everybody followed the path thinking if I can do it, so can they.
“A lot of boxers are approaching our company now. When I started, nobody was in pro boxing sphere, maybe one or two guys,” said Vijender, who is on the cusp of some big fights in 2017.
‘I have a dream’ Singh used to usher when he rode on his bicycle to the boxing club in Bhiwani.
‘It’s about a dream, an Olympic dream’
Sharing his humble beginnings, Vijender shares, “I used to ride a cycle to my boxing club. I used to think that one day I’ll also get an Olympic medal and become a Olympic champion. It was about the dream, and what I wanted to do in life.
“It didn’t happen in one day. I was persistent in following my dreams. Don’t stop, if you want to achieve anything in life. I am doing it because I love boxing. People know me because of boxing. I never think about popularity, money or any other thing. I love my family,” says Vijender.
The pugilist hopes that he continues to inspire the young generation and says its the part hat he likes the most.
“It’s not about me, its about the young kids and the young India. One day a lot of young kids will achieve that level.”
Bronze in Beijing was a landmark moment that changed the life of the 31-year-old boxer.
Sharing an anecdote, he shares, “Everybody was qualifying, from Lakhra, Dinesh, Akhil. And I thought to myself, ‘Why wasn’t I getting the Olympic ticket?’ Finally I made it in Kazakhstan. And I was the last one to qualify for Beijing Olympics.
“The time, three-four months was very depressing. I used to think of Olympics, khaate peete, sote jaagte. Winning the medal, was a game-changer as everybody started recognising me and I got everything I wanted in my life.”