Vijender Singh Beniwal, the latest poster boy of Indian sports, is surely a winner. Not only has he brought the much awaited Olympics acclaim to India, he has also proved that circumstances don’t matter in front of a determined will.
Little did the temple town of Bhiwani know that one day it will be in the limelight for such glorious reasons? It has given India the pugilist who took Olympics by surprise and the world by a storm. He became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal when he won the bronze in the middleweight category at 2008 Beijing Olympics.
His power packed punches at the Olympics gave Indians enough reason to celebrate. Tall, handsome with an athletic frame to die for, he boasts of not just glamour but solid mettle in him. His struggle from the small town of Bhiwani to Beijing wasn’t a cake walk. His father, a bus driver, did overtime to raise money for Vijender’s training.Vijender himself had to go through the mill in order to sponsor his training at the Bhiwani Boxing Club run by national level boxer and coach Jagdish Singh. He worked sidewise and even tried his hand at modelling to support his coaching.
Inspired by his elder brother who is also a former boxer and a Havaldar in the army, Vijender also started young. He used to go to the Bhiwani Sports Authority of India for his boxing practices in his childhood. His struggle encompassed striving against poverty, coping with poor infrastructure and training facilities and also disappointment in the 2004 Olympics. But he didn’t lose heart and continue to sweat it out. And all his slogging definitely paid off, with him bagging medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games, and tournaments in Germany, Baku, Karachi and Scotland. His coach, Jagdish Singh, was always hopeful of Vijender making the cut at the Olympics against all oddity.
With the agile cross, hooks and uppercut he displays in the boxing ring, he can surely be called India’s Rocky Balboa. In fact, he has already become the latest pin up boy, gracing the room walls of many teenagers. Apart from showcasing his nimble moves in boxing, Vijender’s rakish looks led him to attract a lot of attention in the field of modelling. He has been making many pleasant appearances on covers of magazines like Maxim as well as on a number of television shows. But Vijender is not allowing stardom to ensnare him in its false charm. And that’s why he is working with the Haryana police as a police inspector.
In a cricket crazy country, the recent winning spree at the Olympics by Indian boxers like Vijender will hopefully invite some attention from the crowd towards other sports. Also,the glam appeal of Vijender works not only in his favour, but also lends him an aura towards which youngsters gravitate. This would be beneficial in promoting sports other than cricket as they’ll get the much needed publicity and media hype.
According to Vijender, he is not going to end up like many other sportspersons, blinded by the limelight and losing their grip on the game. He says,” I am focused on boxing. I’m a boxer first and I know that if not for my medal I would have remained in obscurity. It brought me fame and name and I have an obligation towards it. However, I want to use this platform (modelling) to bring the game into the limelight, make it as popular as possible and catapult it to its deserving place at the top.”
With all the hard work put in by Vijender and the precious lessons he learnt by fighting against varied setbacks, he surely has a very bright future. If he continues to tread the path to the Commonwealth Games and 2012 Olympics with the same grit and determination, gold in boxing doesn’t seem so far. And all of us along with his idol, Rocky Balboa, would surely be cheering him in all his endeavours!