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Vijender Singh : I can’t quit boxing, it’s in my blood’

Olympian pugilist Vijender Singh, who is contesting elections on a Congress ticket, says boxing will remain his first love.

other sports Updated: Apr 30, 2019 14:48 IST
Naina Arora
Naina Arora
Hindustan Times
Vijender Singh,Lok Sabha Elections,Rahul Gandhi
Boxer Vijender Singh is preparing to contest the general election from the South Delhi constituency on a Congress ticket.(Gokul VS/HT)

With his bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games, Vijender Singh got India its first-ever Olympic medal in boxing. Seven years on, he fought his first professional bout, and in 2016, became the WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Champion. Now, preparing to contest the general election from the South Delhi constituency on a Congress ticket, he looks ready to land the right hooks as perhaps the first Olympic pugilist to be contesting an election.

“It’s a good surprise,” says Vijender about contesting. How’s he coping up with the expectations of this new territory? “Yeh bahut badi zimmedari hai. The environment is new. People are excited. It’s just the beginning. But we are going to succeed and win this. People have given me a chance to represent them, and I am happy to do so. I don’t want to make any false promises, but to do good things for the country, the people and the youth. There’s a line ki public sab jaanti hai,” says the Padma Shri pugilist.

Did he always plan on joining politics? “Yes, kind of. Because the recent scenario in India is not good right now. People never talk about good things like the environment, women’s safety, education, health and employment. They are so many things we have to talk about. But nobody talks about these things. And, we have to make a change now as enough is enough. We are in the 21st century, but we still talk about casteism, religion,” says Singh, who is aspiring to be India’s Manny Pacquiao, former champion professional boxer, who now serves as a Senator of the Philippines.

Singh feels everyone should join politics to be the change they wish to see. “Every youth should come to politics. Once Bhagat Singh said ‘Agar desh ka yuva rajneeti mein nahin aayega, toh I don’t think desh ka kabhi bhala ho sakta hai.’ Youth ko zyada se zyada interest lena chahiye politics mein. They should come out and vote in huge numbers.”

For the new challenge, the 33-year-old looks up to Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. “She told me not to make a stardom kind of aura around myself. [Show] whatever you are and don’t change. My thought process, vision and mind is more with Congress. [Joining them] is because of Rahul [Gandhi]. Priyankaji’s simplicity [also] impressed me. She is the charm of Congress,” he says.

Fans worried that the boxer might hang up his gloves now, can rest easy — Viju isn’t going anywhere. “[Vijender the sportsperson] is always there. People know me because of boxing. I can’t leave boxing, it’s in my blood. I can’t do that. I want to be a boxer till the end of my life,” he says.

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First Published: Apr 30, 2019 14:13 IST