A jab for a job—this sums up Vijender Singh’s initial motivation for taking up boxing. With his father working as a bus driver and his brother in the army, he initially took up boxing only as a means of attaining a secure career. Olympic dreams were far from thought--but they later turned into a reality.
“My first [intention] was to get a job. My future should be secured—that was the main motive when I started,” the humble and cheerful pugilist tells sports broadcaster Sreeduth S. Pillai on THE WEEK’s series Namaste Tokyo. If there is one sport that thrives on the narrative of the underdog rising, it is boxing—and Singh’s story lives up to the trope. Initially rejected for the role of a railway ticket collector, he persisted at his boxing career, hoping to make ends meet. After competing in the 2004 Summer Olympics, he managed to land a job with the NWR Railways. In 2006, he brought home a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. Two years later, he became India’s first Olympian in boxing, with a Bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
His approach to the ring is simple, but effective. “I never remember the name of the city or the place...it’s all about boxing. Go into the ring, beat that guy, come out with the medal,” he says.
In a candid chat, Vijender talks about his decision to turn professional in 2016. While the move ruled him out of another Olympic attempt, he does not regret it—in fact, he wishes he had turned pro sooner! Check out the full interview on YouTube—and stay tuned for future episodes!