Ram Singh was not a household name like Beijing bronze-medal winning boxer Vijender Singh. He was the sparring partner of the more illustrious boxer and when his name figured in a drugs haul case, along with that of Vijender’s, over two years ago, his boxing career came to an abrupt halt. While Vijender remained an active boxer, Ram Singh’s future looked bleak.
The trauma of being hauled up in the heroin case and the subsequent suspension from the national camp had broken Ram Singh’s resolve to return to the ring. In his early thirties, he wasn’t getting any younger. But after a period of introspection, Ram Singh decided to put to use his experience and skill as a boxer.
Eight months ago, on the advice of a few friends, Ram Singh started a boxing club at the Public College in Samana. Forty six boxers, including women’s junior heavyweight national champion Rajwinder Kaur, train at the academy.
At the end of a day, which begins at 5 am and ends at 8 pm, Ram Singh — the coach — feels like he is doing something worthwhile. “It’s like a new life for me. I was sitting idle in my village. I didn’t want to do a regular job and I was removed from my post as head constable after my name was dragged into the drugs case. A few of my friends advised me to start a boxing academy. I approached Dr Arvind Mohan, the principal of the Public College and he agreed to our proposal,” Ram Singh said.
In May 2013, Ram Singh got bail in the drugs seizure case.
Starting from scratch
Starting the boxing club was as good as starting from scratch for Ram Singh. The heavyweight had gained weight and only once the first few students enrolled in the academy, did Ram Singh find the motivation to shed kilograms.
“We opened the club eight months ago and initially 8-10 boxers from Samana village began training. Now, we have 46 boxers in the club. I had gained a lot of weight, but I began running with the youngsters in the morning too. When one of the girls won a medal in the Punjab State boxing Championships in Bathinda, her parents came to thank me. It was then that I decided to become a full-time coach,” Ram Singh added.
Rajwinder, 17, is the jewel in the crown of Ram Singh’s academy. She is set to represent India in the World Junior Championships to be held in Taiwan next month. Five of Ram Singh’s trainees participated in the National Games held in Kerala earlier this year and of this lot Kuldeep Singh won a silver medal in the 75 kg category.
Talking about the progress of Rajwinder, Ram Singh said: “Rajwinder could not run even one kilometre when she came to the club for the first time. But after undergoing fitness training she can now run 10 kilometres. She won a medal within 20 days of joining the club and we had a small party that day. Today, Kuldeep Singh has got an offer to join ITBP. That’s my biggest reward,” said Ram Singh.
He is now set on doing a coaching certificate course from the Sport Authority of India. He does not want to talk about the drug-haul case but says that the support of fellow boxers and friends helped him during the tougher times.
“Fellow boxers have supported me a lot. Last month, boxers like Manoj Kumar, Amandeep Singh and former boxer Dilbaug Singh came and donated 30 pairs of shoes to the club. Amandeep and Manoj told me to do the coaching course and I am looking forward to it,” he said.
Manoj believes that Ram Singh is helping the sport by running the boxing club. “He has inspired a lot of young kids and his wards are winning medals. He is giving something back to the sport. The kids are very happy and we also try and spend time at the club and offer tips,” Manoj said.