Singh expects more India joy in London ring

NEW DELHI Fri Apr 6, 2012 2:31pm IST

1 of 2. Indian boxer Vijender Singh stretches during a practice session at Karnail Singh stadium in New Delhi April 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Parivartan Sharma

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Vijender Singh ran a finger over his brow, mopped away a bead of sweat and calmly flicked it aside.

It is with the same nonchalance that the trailblazing Indian boxer dismissed talk of pressure and explained why it was imperative to do well at the London Olympics.

In Singh, Indian boxing has found the face to match the fists that were so essential in raising the sport's profile in a country obsessed with both cricket and celebrity.

The middleweight bronze he won in Beijing four years ago has completely changed the nation's perception of boxing and Singh is all too aware of how important it is for India's pugilists to build on that success.

"Beijing did change a lot of things for us," the pin-up boy of Indian boxing told Reuters in an interview at the sauna-like boxing hall of Delhi's Karnail Singh Stadium.

"More sponsors stepped in and money started coming in. If we win more medals in London, I know things would become even better," he said before flying to Kazakhstan this week for an Olympic qualifier.

"I'm one hundred percent sure it will be better than Beijing. Sumit (Sangwan), Vikas (Krishan Yadav) and Devendro (Singh)... they all are medal prospects. These are the best crop we have and I know we'll do well in London."

While Yadav (welterweight) and Devendro Singh (light flyweight) are among the four Indians to have already qualified for London, Sangwan (light heavyweight), Vijender Singh and four more team mates will hope to secure their passage through the April 4-13 qualifiers in Astana.

NO CHANGE

Singh's Beijing success has made him Indian boxing's first real celebrity but he insists he remains the same person he was before the last Olympics.

"Of course, I could go and take a walk around Connaught Place (Delhi's business district) without being mobbed which I cannot now.

"But honestly speaking, Beijing has not changed my life as much as some people think," he said, sipping a sports drink.

His claim, however, is rather contradicted by the 26-year-old's occasional appearances on television shows and catwalks, to go along with frequent sightings of him hobnobbing with Bollywood celebrities.

However, Singh has now set aside such distractions to focus on a second Olympic medal, knowing it will be a considerably tougher assignment than Beijing, where he rose from obscurity.

"We all study opponents but I suspect we forget most of it once we enter the ring," he said.

"People have studied me before as well but that does not mean I have not won since Beijing," said Singh, who also claimed a bronze at the 2009 world championship and was ranked world number one in the same year.

"Also, it's not that I sit idle. I too, watch the bouts of my opponents, study them and plan with my coach.

"I don't want to share my preparation details but I can assure all that I would not let my country down."

(Editing by John O'Brien)

FILED UNDER:

Religion and Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fund Raising

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

To Boost Growth

To Boost Growth

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.   Full Article 

Bold Steps

Bold Steps

SpiceJet rescue plan marks bold bet on Indian aviation recovery.   Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Online Sales

Online Sales

Knock knock. Who's there? Amazon's best-selling holiday author.  Full Article 

Hacking Attack

Hacking Attack

N.Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage