Land and cars are two ways people in the rural Haryana like to flout new-found wealth. No surprise therefore that the state’s boxing heroes are doing the same.
Olympic bronze medallist Vijender’s Singh father is still a driver in Haryana Roadways. Indian boxing’s poster boy Akhil Kumar’s father was a head constable in Haryana Police. Jitender Kumar’s father retired as an artillery soldier from the army.
Cars and fancy houses were divorced from their realistic construct of life in their golden years. However, with sons who have rejigged the very expanse of boxing in the nation, it is obvious that reverberations have jostled their way too.
Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Vijender has bought a Ford SUV for his family and now has property worth crores. Jitender preferred a Tata vehicle and has set up a real estate business for his brother while Akhil is focusing on building two houses – one in Rohtak and the other in hip Gurgaon. All three are Deputy Superintendents of Police in Haryana and in the feudal backwaters of the state that makes them petty potentates but commanding huge respect.
All of this has come on account of boxing and their success is threatening to unleash a revolution across the state that portends that smacking thwack of leather meeting flesh will resound in each cranny that has space enough to hold two sparring
“Boxing has always been attractive for kids in Bhiwani, but after Vijender’s Olympic medal, we have seen a sudden increase in kids taking up the sport,” says Jagdish Singh, the Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) coach who runs the Bhiwani Boxing Club.
“From the past eight-ten months, the number of kids in the boxing academies here have almost trebled,” he adds.
“Earlier kids used to take up boxing to get a job in Railways or Services and very few looked to make it big in the sport. But after Vijender’s triumph, the perspective has totally changed. Now every kid wants to be an Olympic champion,” he adds.
In Bhiwani, hundred of boxers have got jobs in Railways, Services, Haryana Police and other government posts under the sports quota and that sees them instantly lift the social standing and economic position of their families.
There are six boxing academies in Bhiwani and each one is bursting at the seams. There are two SAI centres and a Haryana Sports Department venture too.
“The best thing is that now parents are also interested that their kids should pursue boxing as a career,” says Haryana Sports Department’s Vishnu Bhagwan.
Sandeep Singh, whose father is a mason, recently won silver in the junior world championship in Armenia and wants to make a big like Akhil Kumar.
“I want to box like my idol Akhil and hope that one day boxing will be able to end my family’s financial troubles,” says the16-year-old old. Like him thousands of youngsters sweat, bleed and regularly embrace hurt in the hope of changing lives beyond the regular.
Now parents are trooping to boxing academies with pig-tailed daughters in tow. Poonam (14) of Nimri village, who is current junior national champion in 57kg, is just seven months into the sport and her parents are hopeful of her landing a job in the Indian Railways.
One has to tread wary in Bhiwani, there are dreams sprouting in every corner.