Vijender Singh is a firm believer in the adage, 'without failure, there is no real success'. He has seen his share of lows-be it his childhood of humble means where his father worked as a bus driver, according to reports, or the doping controversy he was involved in, where he came out clean. The first Indian boxer to be ranked world number one feels, there is no substitute for hard work and top talent is useless without it. With a Haryanvi accent that complements the title, Vijender tells us more on how to live well and live right.
From Haryana to the Olympics and Bollywood
It has been a long and tiresome journey but I have worked hard, and managed to stay focused. Change is the only constant and I have evolved with time. What sets you apart is how well you evolve; some men have a skill for it, an innate drive. Back in Bhiwani, we were never exposed to fashion and the finer things in life that groom one's personality. After winning several competitions, I started getting recognised and received several offers from the entertainment industry; this is when I realised the need to evolve. One should never say no to any opportunity that can enable him/her to grow as an individual. However, I never gave up on my roots; only gift-wrapped the package I had to offer.
On the right fuel
A good diet forms 60 per cent of your fitness regime. It is important to set your goals first and then formulate a diet plan. If you want to lose weight, you might want to cut your carb intake initially, but going off carbs completely will make for an incomplete diet. On the other hand, when you want to gain weight, you must consume enough carbs and proteins to help build muscle mass. The key here is to never overdo anything and maintain a balance.
On fitness a few years back and now
Fitness is a state of well-being and a continous process. A person who can lift a 100kg may not be as healthy as a person who can only lift half the weight. The biggest challenge is conquering your will power. In fact, if you want to change your lifestyle, that indeed is the first step. You may face a lot of difficulties initially, but once you get through the first couple of months, you'd be surprised at the changes.
On natural vs supplements
Indian cuisine is not the healthiest. Our food is rich in carbs and fats and does not have sufficient protein. Therefore, it is good to eat protein-rich white meat. You can also take vitamin, iron and calcium supplements to make up for the lack of nutrients in your food.
On success and failure
You cannot succeed without having tasted failure. If you think you have never failed in life, it's time to introspect. For me, there is still a long way to go. After winning an Olympic when I was bombarded with offers for product endorsements, films, TV etc., but my only focus has been boxing. Whatever success has come to me is only because of the punches I can land on my opponent. Now, I would like to give back by opening a boxing academy and extend my experience and support.
On grooming and style
Research suggests that we tend to spend more time speaking and listening carefully to a person who is attractive and has a great personality. The first thing one notices about you is what you wear and how you conduct yourself. Grooming is essential to building one's personality but the key here is to always be yourself.
There are several things that can motivate a person. For some, it might be their family, while others might just want to make an honest living. One needs to find their motivation on their own. Spend time with yourself, see what makes you happy and narrow down on where you see yourself five to 10 years from today. Set smaller targets but make sure they ultimately combine to form a larger picture (I am motivated each day to work harder to win an Olympic gold medal and create history yet again). When I am not boxing, I focus on my acting. As a policeman, I am motivated to make sure that I eradicate crime from the entire area under my jurisdiction. Whatever the field, the urge to do good, for me, and for the country, is what inspires me.
On the hardest part of the profession
The hardest thing about boxing is that it is not a profession, but a way of life. People think that sportspersons have it easy but they don't know the hard work involved. You need to push all the odds and work against time. In today's fast-paced world where there is cut-throat competition in every field, the only way to survive is to focus on making yourself better each day. Hard work wins over talent and there is no substitute for the former.
On marriage and fatherhood
Being married adds a sense of responsibility and belonging. You are responsible for the well-being of your partner and it's no longer just about "me". Fatherhood is like watching yourself grow up again. It's an excellent experience because at times, one is only as old as the child is and equally unaware of what he wants you to do.
On the biggest fitness challenge faced by Indian men
Because the facilities are available, motivation is the biggest challenge. Today six out of 10 men have a gym membership but only two of those really put it to use. Contrary to reality, people think that the only way to stay fit is to hit the gym. If you find the gym boring, you can walk or sprint or take up a sport like tennis, kickboxing, squash or swimming; just make sure to stay active and break away from the lethargy. It's important to understand the relevance of exercising; it's essentially to build a healthy mind and a good- looking body will follow suit.
Power up for a precision punch
The perfect pop is built on posture and bone alignment, not fist strength. Use this routine to refine your form.
Set the stance
Leading with your nondominant leg, position your feet shoulder-width apart, with the toe of your dominant foot in line with the heel of your non-dominant foot. Your head extends over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips. Your knees are slightly bent.
Throw the blow
Step forward with your lead foot and extend your non-dominant arm so that your shoulder, elbow, wrist, and front two knuckles are in alignment. Your punch and your foot should land at the same time. Follow up with a cross, regaining with your rear foot the distance you took in your first step. Then come back to your original stance.
Connect the punches
Repeat the sequence, shadowboxing for three minutes. Then do another three-minute round of the same sequence, this time on a heavy bag. That's one set. Complete three sets, building speed each time. When you master the strike, it should feel like you're snapping your target with a wet towel. Rest 1 minute between each exercise.