Vijender Kumar shot to instant fame when he claimed a bronze medal from boxing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The 23-year-old made clever use of his quick reflexes and long reach to make it to the semi-finals in the 75kg category, where he lost to Cuba's Emilio Correa.
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In the process, he secured India's first boxing medal and swelled the country's medal tally at the Games to three, the highest achieved at an Olympics, following Abhinav Bindra's gold in shooting and Sushil Kumar's bronze in wrestling.
Born in Bhiwani, a nursery for boxers, the Haryana lad took up the gloves very early and went up the grades quite easily before qualifying for the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he was knocked out in the first round. Four years later he made up for that failure with a podium finish and the promise of greater glory.
Vijender was on Rediff Chat on Tuesday, September 16, during which he fielded questions from his fans. Following is the transcript:
Prasad asked, hi pls tell me what type of motivation u r getting at the time of Olympics?
Vijender Kumar I prayed to God a lot that I wanted to win a medal for my country. My family and friend also motivated me a lot after the last Olympics, so I think that helped me a lot in Beijing.
hari asked, hi congrats to u for the success
Vijender Kumar, Thank you so much for your wishes.
aloknath asked, plz tell me how u feel after winning the medal
Vijender Kumar, I feel great.
Tushar asked, Sanjay Dutt is now endorsing Boxing. Aren't you or even Akhil Kumar for that matter a hero enough to endorse boxing? Isn't Dutt's endorsement suggesting that non-cricketing sportsmen aren't treated as heroes yet?
Vijender Kumar, I think it is a good move to get Sanjay Dutt as the brand ambassador for the sport. Already me, Akhil and Jitender have got so much limelight, so I think boxing is on the rise in this country.
Photograph: Harish Kotian