Vijender, the glamboy of Indian boxing (Profile)August 20th, 2008 - 11:36 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) His drop-dead looks and chiselled jaws could give country’s Bollywood stars and models a run for their money. But what Vijender Kumar knows best is to punch his opponents in the boxing ring as he showed in Beijing Wednesday becoming the first Indian pugilsit to reach the Olympic semifinal.The strapping 23-year-old Vijender is part of Bhiwani’s boxing brigade, three of whom have done the country proud by making it to the quarterfinals of the Olympics. Vijender, though, made sure of at least a bronze medal after the disappointing loss of his stable-mates Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar.
Boxing came naturally to Vijender as he picked up the sport inspired by his brother Manoj, a national champion.
Born in Kaluwas village in Bhiwani, Haryana, Vijender started to train at Bhiwani’s Sports Authority of India (SAI)centre where coach Jagdish Singh honed his in-born talent.
His father Mahipal Singh is in a government job and his mother is a housewife. Vijender did his primary schooling from his village, secondary school from Bhiwani and finally a bachelor’s degree from Vaish College.
Vijender won silver medal in his first sub-junior nationals and then finished the second sub-junior in the same position. He graduated to the junior national competitions steadily and was picked to visit several countries like Cuba for further training and competitions.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Vijender contested in the welterweight division, but lost to Mustafa Karagollu of Turkey.
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games, he defeated England’s Neil Perkins in the semis but lost to South Africa’s Bongani Mwelase, who went on to win the gold.
He then won silver at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games 2006.
He went up a division and competed in the Middleweight (75 kg) division at the 2006 Asian Games winning the bronze medal in a lost semifinal bout against Kazakhstan’s Bakhtiyar Artayev 24-29.
Vijender then qualified for Beijing with a bang, winning gold at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Kazakhstan.