Vijender Singh feels India have a good bunch of boxers to get more than one medal at the upcoming World Boxing Championships, starting August 25 in Hamburg. The pro boxer created history when he opened India’s account at the Worlds eight years ago in Milan. India have had bronze medals at the event in the 2009, 2011 and 2015 editions. Apart from Vijender, Vikas Krishan (2011) and Shiva Thapa (2015) are the other two bronze medallists from India.
“It is a mature bunch of boxers. I have been in teams that had Shiva (Thapa), Vikas (Krishan) and Manoj (Kumar). So, I know some of them well. They have the ability to ensure that India ends up with more than one medal. If they compete to their full potential, I think there is a real chance of more than one medal,” Vijender told PTI in an interview.
“They have competed at the highest level in the past and know what they should do. I cannot give any suggestions to them but I can just say, they need to be very focussed,” he added.
Both Vikas (75kg) and Shiva (60kg) are part of the eight-member unit which has already reached Hamburg after earning their berths through the Asian Championships earlier this year.
Amit Phangal (49kg), Kavinder Bisht (52kg), Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg), Manoj Kumar (69kg), Sumit Sangwan (91kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg) are the other members of the team. Vijender, who turned pro in 2015, has two titles in his unbeaten run in the circuit so far. Vijender feels Milan medal helped him silence critics who termed his Beijing Olympics bronze medal fluke.
“That bronze medal I won in Milan was part of a beautiful phase in my career because it managed to silence some harsh critics, who felt that my medal in Beijing was a fluke. There were people who said that I was not training enough, within months of my medal in Beijing.
“To me, focus has always meant shutting myself off before heading to a big tournament. I would just insulate myself from anything and everything that was going on outside the little space, which I would create for myself,” he explained.
Vijender urged the boxers part of the World Championships team to not allow expectations play on the mind.
“There will always be expectations and I am sure the guys who are competing this time, are well aware of that. But to me, the key lies in not allowing that to play on the mind. There has to be a single-minded focus on the ring, forget everything else, that’s what I do,” he said.
India’s star boxer didn’t pick his favourite but reserved special praise for Shiva, who he feels “has progressed tremendously”.
“He has progressed tremendously and seems to be a very sorted boxer. I have been impressed by his growth,” said Vijender.