Vijender Singh says move to United Kingdom purely to focus better
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Vijender Singh talks about the title bout with Kerry Hope, the past and Rio 2016.
Focus is one of the most important factors for any sportsperson in order to achieve success and its demand rises even more if you are a professional boxer like Vijender Singh. Being a national hero in a country like India can be a tough thing to manage, given the charade of unnecessary media attention, events, weddings, and controversies, which keeps taking place. The boxer, who will fight his first professional bout against Australian Kerry Hope on Saturday, now looks like a man in his zone and ready to go.
Vijender Singh will fight Kerry Hope in his career’s first title bout on July 16th in the New Delhi’s Thyagraj Sports Complex and it is being dubbed as the homecoming of the boxer, who shifted his base to the United Kingdom after turning professional. Singh spoke exclusively to Sportskeeda and explained the reasons behind his decision to move to the United Kingdom for training.
“It was a conscious decision to move to the United Kingdom because there were a lot of distractions in India that would have prevented me from focusing on my training. There are so many distractions like family, relatives, weddings, social functions, endorsement shoots and what not. So I decided to just remove everything and move my base to the United Kingdom, where I could train with focus,” he said.
To look from a neutral perspective, it seems quite early in his professional career (he has fought only six fights) that Vijender Singh has got a shot at a title. However, the boxer did not agree with that and said that there cannot be a better time for this fight. “Not at all, this is the right time. I do not have time to wait since I am 30 years old and I am glad to be getting the chance to fight for Asia Pacific title,” said Vijender sounding really confident.
Pro boxing is considered an incredibly tough sport and takes a lot out of anyone aiming to excel at it, physically, mentally and psychologically. Vijender spoke about how his coach Lee Beard changed his perspective about training and fitness. “The journey from amateur to professional is incredibly tough. Everything totally changes, right from the diet, footwork to exercise. When my coach saw me for the first time, he immediately asked me to stop wasting so much energy in footwork.
“Professional boxing is all about endurance, hardwork, blood loss and stamina. You have to go 10 to 12 rounds, which can be quite tough. However, I have worked really hard and it is going really well,” he said. Talking about the change in his diet, he said, “My diet has a high concentration of protein now. There have been a lot of changes. The diet in India is carbohydrates heavy but in pro boxing, your tissues need a lot of protein.”
There was a time in Vijender’s life, after the 2012 London Olympics, when it seemed as if he was straying from his path to do something quite ordinary as compared to where his actual talents lied. Television shows, movies, and modelling assignments had turned Vijender into a star but not a great boxer. A few years later, he seems much more in control and raring to go for his fight against Kerry Hope.
Vijender, however, does not agree that he strayed from his path and believes he did not make any wrong choices. “Nothing of that sort happened (getting distracted), I am an instinctive person and I do what I feel like. A lot of offers came my way and I took them. I felt like doing movies so I did them. Even right now I have movie offers but I don’t want to do anything because I am focused on my bout and boxing,” he said with a lot of clarity.
Kerry Hope, Vijender’s opponent, has a more than a decade of boxing behind him and knows what it is like to be in a fight that goes the full length wishes to target this Indian opponent on that account only. Vijender, however, feels that going the distance will not be a problem for him and he has prepared quite intensely for this bout. “I have had a lot of sessions preparing for the fight if it goes to several rounds and I am ready to go the distance. There is absolutely no problem for me in handling an experienced fighter,” he said.
Vijender is really passionate about the Olympics and a patriot as well. He said he will be closely following the 2016 Rio Olympics and hopes India can topple its tally from last time. “I have really high hopes from the Indian contingent. Shooting is one sport where we always do well and I think they will get medals this time as well. I also think Shiva Thapa will get a medal in boxing as he is really talented and I have big hopes on him,” he said.
The bout on Saturday is going to be a landmark day in Indian sports history as a boxer from the country will be looking to win a professional title. Though things have not been that smooth for Vijender in the past few years, he is raring to go this time and hopes to ace it. He was certainly looking good and in his zone. We hope the lad from Haryana police arrests all the “hope” Kerry has of beating him on July 16th.