Vijender Singh: Olympic medallist who gets knock-out punch
The 2008 Beijing Games silver medallist is in the news for all the wrong reasons this week, after being allegedly named by a drug peddler.
New Delhi: Indian boxer Vijender Singh is in the news for all the wrong reasons this week, after being allegedly named as having purchased drugs from arrested peddler Anup Singh Kahlon on Thursday.
In a massive drug haul, the police had recovered heroin worth Rs 130 crore from a flat in Zirakpur, Mohali. The police claimed that Vijender's wife's car was found outside the Zirakpur flat and 10 kilograms of heroin was also recovered from another car. But it has not been confirmed if it was from the boxer's wife's car. The champion boxer later released a statement in which he denied the allegations.
For the uninitiated, Vijender is the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal. This landmark came at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Going into the Games, not much was expected from the young Vijender with the experienced Akhil Kumar easily the biggest medal prospect. But while Akhil failed to make the semis, Vijender created history by winning bronze.
Vijender started off by defeating Gambia's Badou Jack 13-2 in the round of 32. In the round of 16, he beat Angkhan Chomphuphuang of Thailand 13-3 to reach the middleweight boxing quarter-finals. Here, he overcame Ecuadorian southpaw Carlos Gongora of 9-4 in the quarter-finals to ensure him the bronze. Vijender lost 5-8 to Cuba's Emilio Correa in the semi-finals and shared a bronze medal with Ireland's Darren Sutherland.
His Olympic bronze earned him a series of awards back home, including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the country's highest sporting honor, in 2008. A few months after Vijenders arned a bronze at the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championship in Milan, he was declared the world No. 1 middleweight boxer by the AIBA International Boxing Association.
Born on October 29, 1985 in Kaluwas village of Bhiwani district in Haryana, Vijender took to boxing along with his older brother Manoj as a means to support his father Mahipal Singh Beniwal, a bus driver with the Haryana Roadways, and mother. Inspired by Manoj, a former boxer himself, Vijender joined the Indian army in 1009 with his brother's support.
He trained under former national-level boxer Jagdish Singh and progressed up the state level, until he bagged his first gold medal at the 2000 Nationals. In 2003, Vijender was crowned the all-India youth champion and in the same year claimed silver at the Afro-Asian Games.
Vijender has credited Sylvester Stallone's immortal Rocky Balboa from the Rocky film franchise as a major inspiration, as well as boxers Mohammad Ali and Mike Tyson. The 27-year-old is also a Deputy Superintendent of Police in the Haryana Police.