Vijender Singh is going to be the first Indian to win world boxing title: Francis Warren

How do you concentrate during a training session in which about 100 people are cheering you on, some whistling, some others screaming your name?

For India’s boxing sensation Vijender Singh, training at a mall may have been a first. But he wasn’t distracted, to say the least, during his 45-minute workout session at a mall in Kurla here on Wednesday.
After all, he has just turned a professional boxer, and in his words, he “can’t afford to be distracted by anything”.

And, he did look like a boxer that’s just turned pro. He entered the stage wearing a black robe with golden rims, glanced at the crowd, gave a freezing stare before getting down to business. He wasn’t going to waste any more time.

That’s going to be his mantra — not wasting time. The 28-year-old has about six or seven years as a fighter, and he wants to make the most it. “One day at a time,” he said.

“Professional boxing is entirely different. I’ve got to learn the techniques again. The basics are quite similar but simple things make a lot of difference. Right now, I’m focusing on my left jab,” said the Haryanvi pugilist.

It’s not going to be a walk in the park for Singh. But, according to his trainer, Lee Beard, he has the makings of a world champion. “It’s been only a week since I’ve worked with him (Singh), and I’ve seen that he’s a very gifted boxer. He has a good jab, but what has impressed me the most is his physical and mental strength. He’s a very smart fighter, but professional boxing is a different level altogether. He’s been a champion amateur, and that’s why he has an edge. But there will be a lot riding on his shoulders, and he’ll have to carry that,” said Beard.

Many questioned Singh’s motive to go pro at such a late stage in his career. Many questioned the timing as it has come one year before the Olympics. Some even termed it as a publicity stunt.

But his promoter, Francis Warren, rubbished any idea that the move had anything to do other than boxing.

“It’s disrespectful to think that the best boxer in the country could turn pro to gain more publicity than he already has. Look at the titles he has won as an amateur. Doesn’t that prove that he has the hunger to win? We wouldn’t sign a boxer for publicity sake. When I asked him (Singh) why he wanted to turn pro, he said that he wanted to win a world title. That’s the ultimate ambition a boxer can have. And, he has that. He was the first Indian to win an Olympic medal, he’s the first Indian to become a professional wrestler, and he’s going to be the first Indian to win a world boxing title.”