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Vijender Singh set to punch away to Olympic glory

New Delhi, Jul 30: Four years after making a first-round exit at Athens, Asian Games bronze medallist Vijender Kumar is all geared up to clinch India's first-ever Olympic medal in boxing at the Beijing Games next month.

''The first time I just about got to know what the Olympics really meant. But this time I am hopeful of a medal,'' Vijender said. ''The experience of so many international tournaments has helped me to know what to do and what not.'' Vijender's dream of an Olympic medal received a major boost when the Haryana lad beat Bakhtiyar Artayev, who won gold in the welterweight category at Athens, in the quarter-finals of the AIBA President's Cup in May.

''I have beaten the best amateur boxers in the world in my category in an international tournament in Taiwan. That makes me believe that this Olympics is going to be a turning point in my life,'' Vijender said.

''That will make my story very much like Rocky Balboa, who came from a modest background like me and boxed his way to stardom,'' he added.

When asked about his plans after the Beijing Olympics, the 22-year-old said if he picks up a medal in Beijing, he will take a shot at becoming a professional boxer.

''A promoter like Don King, a ring inside Madison Square Garden, and millions of dollars per bout. That is my dream, that is where I want to be,'' he stated.

Jagdish Singh, Vijender's coach at the Bhiwani Boxing Club, is over the moon after four of his wards - Akhil Kumar, Dinesh Kumar and Jitender Kumar, apart from Vijender. qualified for the Beijing Olympics.

''Four of my students are off to Beijing and their chances of winning medals is very strong. This could be the best time for Indian boxing,'' Singh gushed.

''What else do I want?'' he added. ''I'm the happiest person on earth and waiting for the day one of them wins the country's first ever Olympic boxing medal.'' ''Vijender is the one who has the best chance. He has a good cross, hook and uppercut and moves well in the ring.'' UNI AB RAR GC1644

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Story first published: Wednesday, July 30, 2008, 17:07 [IST]
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