Out of the seven men boxing Asian Games medallists, four - Vijender Singh (gold), Vikas Krishan (gold), Dinesh Kumar (silver) and Parmjeet Samota (bronze) - are from Bhiwani.
While India has got used to seeing their smiles, the truth about their bitter journey to stardom is hardly known. The maximum contribution to Bhiwani's evolution as India's boxing capital goes to the Sports Authority of India Training Centre (STC). Olympic medallist Vijender, Arjuna award winner Akhil Kumar and World Cup bronze medallist Jitender Kumar are all products of this facility. The conditions here, however, are extremely distressing.
The boxers are living in cramped shanty rooms with broken floors and walls with dollops of plaster peeling off.
"With these facilities don't expect to produce champions. After our Beijing Olympics' achievements, the authorities had promised that they would equip the Centre with world-class facilities. But, things have only worsened," said Vijender.
There is hardly any running water in the restrooms. Trainees have to lug in buckets of water if they need to take a bath. Forget about muscle relaxing hot and cold contrast showers. There is only one washbasin for around half a dozen toilets.
"The Centre has produced a number of international boxers and the count is still on. But if one looks at the facilities here, no one will believe that we are the products of this place," he adds.
Apart from living conditions, training aids are also in poor shape. The boxing ring ropes are broken and the corner cushions torn. Of the two multi-trainer gym machines one hardly works while the other is crammed into a room with limited stretching space.
Bhiwani SAI Centre in-charge, Brish Bhan, explains: "As per the MoU between the SAI and Haryana Government, it's the duty of the state government to maintain the building. But as they are not doing anything to maintain the hostels, whatever we can contribute in this regard we are doing."