Two boxers with contrasting styles were warming up in different corners of the Talkatora Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. As they were going through the rituals, one could not miss the stark resemblance between the two.
On one side was Vijender — he could not be missed in a billion people now after his Olympic bronze and few jigs in TV Reality shows — and on the other side was Balwinder Singh — Vijender’s first cousin. “He has started making a mark in the senior circuit and within a few years, he will be as famous as me,” said Vijender, who is not alone in predicting a successful future for the young pugilist from Bhiwani. “Mera bhai will shine.”
Even India’s foreign coach B.I. Fernandes was impressed with Balwinder’s exploits in the ring as a junior. He won a gold at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Pune in 2008 and, more recently, a gold at the Super Cup in Mumbai. “He has been quite impressive and is training very hard,” said Fernandes.
Balwinder, a southpaw, was picked to strengthen the Indian squad for the Commonwealth Boxing Championship in the 64kg category. And the youngster wants to live life, Vijender style.
Try speaking to the 19-year-old, and he will only talk about his illustrious brother. “Ever since I saw Viju bhai picking up a gold at the Afro-Asian Games in 2003, I got inspired,” said the soft-spoken Balwinder. “From that day, I decided to be like him.”
Balwinder knows that in boxing nothing comes easy. “I have learnt a lot from Vijender and want to show the world that I’m Vijender’s brother. This Championship will give me the exposure to grow professionally,” he said.
“I want to participate in the Commonwealth Games in October also,” he said.
Vijender too sounded optimistic about his brother’s chances in the ring. “He is training under Cuban coach (Fernandes) who is taking very good care of him. I wish him luck.”