CHENNAI: ON land or water? On a cruise ship or in a boxing hall? Vijender Singh’s next fight could be anywhere. If insiders are to be believed, feelers have been sent and permissions are being sought. A ship could be a heady alternative. Of course, it’s early days and in these times of the coronavirus, nothing is certain unless the bell is rung for the first round. Though there are whispers going on for a few days, Vijender’s twitter handle did announce about a fight next month. Dates and opponents are yet to be finalized. Venue too.
Vijender, however, is itching to put on the gloves and step into the ring as early as possible. Lockdown had been cruel to sportspersons and as a professional fighter, Vijender, who won a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, too endured the predicament of cancelled events, loss of revenue and sporadic, half-hearted training. The easing of lockdown brought him into the gym: a place he considers home. By October he started training, increasing load and intensity as time progressed. By January first week, he felt the leather on his gloves brushing against the face of an opponent. Yes, sparring finally did start.
While Vijender doesn't know much about the logistics of the fight, he did speak about his training. March seems to be the month he is expecting to be on his feet waltzing and caressing against the face of an opponent in a professional bout. “These days we are not sure what would happen next,” he said philosophically over the phone. “I hope things fall in place. What I can do is talk about my training and it is going on well.”
Due to lockdown, his jaunts abroad have stopped. He is now training at home with his friend, teammate and now coach Jai Bhagwan. “He is my coach,” he said. “We are having some good sessions. After we were allowed to train I started too. I had been doing a bit of fitness drills at home during lockdown too so that I did not put on weight that would take time to shed.”
The sparring sessions became intense only from January. He sparred with boys from his boxing cradle Bhiwani, Faridabad and Gurugram. “It was nice to train with those youngsters. I helped them too with their boxing,” he said. He started with two and then four rounds of boxing. Then increased it to six and now he can extend his fight to 10 rounds. “We increased it gradually and now I am comfortable fighting 10 rounds.”
Like any athlete, he too is expecting sports to continue in whatever way it can because “sports usually cleanses us and gives us hope and a different perspective towards life”. As he strides towards March, the only expectation he has got is a good opponent and a spectacular fight. If he manages, it will be after 15 months since his last fight in November 2019 at Dubai, he will punch competitively.