Soon after he landed at the Indira International Airport in Delhi,welterweight boxer Dilbag Singh headed straight to Bhiwani to meet his family and friends. Back from Russia where he had won a silver at the Khabarovsk International Competition,Singh only had a couple of days at home before he had to return to Patiala for the national camp.
“I did nothing but play with my daughter Vidhi. She is only 18 months old so I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible,” he says. While the homecoming was short,Singh was glad he was returning to the national camp.
Having spent nearly a year out of the ring after a positive test for methylhexanamine,Singh had returned to competition last year and subsequently returned to the national squad after winning his ninth national title in November.
The medal at Khabarovsk was also Singh’s first in international competition since a bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and with his form and confidence back,the boxer is hopeful of better performances in what will be a big year. “The competition in Russia was quite strong. We even had an Olympic gold medallist from Kazakhstan over there. I lost to a good boxer in the final but I feel that I was competing at the same level,” he says.
The immediate competition for Singh is the Asian Championships later this month. While he has never been defeated in domestic competition for nearly a decade,he won’t be too worried if he doesn’t make the the squad. “When I got the ban I was most disappointed because I was sure I would have done well at the World Championships that year. My only goal this year is to qualify for the World Championships in October,” he says.
In Singh’s absence,Vikas Krishan Yadav had made a name for himself in the welterweight category,winning bronze at the World Championships. But Krishan has now moved into the 75kg category,leaving Singh with a sole competitor in Mandeep Jangra,20.
While Singh is confident of his ability he admits the youngster has an advantage. “It becomes harder for me because youngsters are seen as the future so they will be given a lot of chances right now.” says the boxer.
Yet Singh still feels he has something going his way. AIBA’s new rules regarding headgear-free bouts and professional style 10-point scoring are coming into play from June,but Singh has been preparing for quite some time. “At the time that I was given the ban I wasn’t very certain whether I would be able to make my comeback to the squad. So my immediate goal was to get selected for the World Series of Boxing,” Singh says.
“Unfortunately the league got shut down so I couldn’t take part. But at the same time,I think I still got some benefit because I had been preparing for the professional-style approach longer than the guys who were at the national camp who only started preparing after the Olympics,when we got to know about the new rules,” he says.
“Because there isn’t any headguard,you need to be very good defensively. Because points will also be given for your entire performance and not just punches,you can’t just hide behind your gloves and throw punches. Because of that I have been working on my movement and also my stamina,” he says.