Indian boxing star Vijender Singh on Tuesday hailed athletics’ latest golden girl Hima Das’ performance, saying the Assamese lass should be supported financially from here on and not just eulogized.
Hima created history last week by winning the yellow metal in the women’s 400-metre event at the IAAF World U-20 Championships in Tampere, Finland.
Hima registered a time of 51.46 seconds in the final at the Ratina Stadium to become the first Indian athlete to win gold in a world championship across all age groups.
“She did a great job. It’s amazing,” Vijender told reporters on the sidelines of an interactive session with students of Newtown School here.
“People only congratulate her. But there should be people who will support her financially. She comes from a poor family and she needs financial support,” said the 32-year old Vijender who is now into pro boxing.
Born in a poor family, Hima is the last of five children of a rice-growing farmer in Kandhulimari village about five kilometers from Dhing town of Nagaon district in central Assam.
Since her unprecedented achievement, the 18-year old who wanted to be a football player has become the toast of the nation with India cricket team captain Virat Kohli and batting legend Sachin Tendulkar among the many to have congratulated her.
Talking about his own experience prior to Beijing Olympics where he was the last to qualify from the Asian qualifying tournament in Kazakhstan, Vijender said it doesn’t come easy and thus the toil should be recognised in Hima’s case.
“People had written me off as I made the cut at the last moment. It doesn’t come easy so I feel her effort should not go in waste and she should be supported properly.”
The 32-year-old 2008 Olympic bronze medallist was slated to take on Briton Lee Markham for the Commonwealth Super middleweight title but the latter got injured.
The fight was scheduled for July 13 and would have given Vijender a shot at his third title after having claimed the WBO Asia Pacific and Oriental Super Middleweight titles.
“We are planning to have the fight in September but the dates have not been decided yet,” Vijender informed.
“The opponent was supposed to be Lee Markham but he got injured so the fight got postponed. Now the Commonwealth committee will decide the opponent,” the Manchester-based pugilist added.
Vijender has been victorious in his 10 previous outings while Markham had the experience of 22 fights, 17 of them wins.
The fight would have been Vijender’s first in six months since he successfully defended his twin titles in the clash against Ghana’s Ernest Amuzu in Jaipur.
Asked about whether more boxers should take up pro boxing, Vijender said: “After a certain age, I feel boxers should attempt the pro level. There are boxers who go to Olympics and Asian Games. But what about the rest?”
“They can come to pro boxing. I am not saying the cream should opt for pro boxing, but those who feel they can do well at pro level should come.”
After turning pro Vijender inspired a lot of Indian boxers to take up professional boxing including Commonwealth Games champion Vikas Krishan who has already expressed his desire to turn pro.
Vijender signed off by urging upcoming boxers to be mentally strong as it’s an individual sport and one needs to push himself.
“People should think positive. It depends on the boxers as well since it’s not a team sport.”
Vijender, who turned to pro boxing in 2015, is ranked fourth in the WBO Super Middleweight category.