If Pollywood is searching for a biopic of a sporting star then Vijender Singh’s story is surely one they are watching with interest. After his fights had stopped pulling in major crowds in India, Super middleweight Vijender Singh, a three-time Olympian, signed a multiyear promotional contract with leading boxing company Top Rank on Monday.
Top Rank have also confirmed that Singh will make his debut in early 2019 in the US. Vijender, 33, has represented India in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, taking home a bronze medal from the 2008 Beijing Games.
Vijender has also had brushes with the Police in India. On 6 March 2012, during a raid conducted on an NRI residence near Chandigarh, Punjab Police seized 26 kilograms of heroin and other drugs, valued at ₹1.3 billion (US$18 million). They also recovered a car registered in the name of Vijender’s wife from outside the home of alleged drug dealer Anoop Singh Kahlon.
Later in March, a Punjab Police statement said, “As per investigation conducted so far, Vijender Singh consumed the drug about 12 times and Ram Singh (his sparring partner) about five times.” Singh denied the allegations and refused to give his hair and blood samples for testing.
NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency) refused to test Vijender claiming protocol did not allow it to test an athlete for that drug when he was out of competition. However, on 3 April the Sports Ministry of India directed NADA to conduct a test on the boxer since these reports were “disturbing and may have a debilitating influence on other sportspersons in the country”.
By mid-May 2013, the Olympic bronze-medalist was given an “all-clean” certificate by the National Anti-Doping Agency
Singh, then broke from India and was co-promoted by England’s Frank Warren when he turned pro in 2015 and has fought all of his fights in England/Ireland or India.
“Top Rank is very excited to enter into a contract with Vijender,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “We intend to make him a big star in the United States and look forward to him participating in major events in India, where he is already a major superstar.”
Due to his amateur boxing success Singh became a celebrity in India, including appearances in Bollywood films and on the popular Indian dance reality show, “Nach Baliye.”
Singh, aiming to become India’s first professional boxing world titleholder, has not boxed since December and said he is ready to get back to work.
“I am really excited to be on board with Bob Arum and Top Rank,” Singh said. “I have always wanted to work with someone who is the best in the business, and I know Top Rank has been the driving force behind boxing’s biggest superstars, including Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, and Miguel Cotto. I am eagerly waiting a date for my U.S. debut to take on the world and keep the Indian flag on the world boxing map fluttering high. I also want to thank Mr. Neerav Tomar and IOS Boxing Promotions for helping get me to this point of my professional career, and I look forward to working with Top Rank.”
Tomar, the leading boxing promoter in India, said Top Rank was their first choice for an American promotional partner.
“There was only one choice when we decided to go with a promoter in United States, and Bob has done so much for professional boxers over the years and has been instrumental in building the careers of so many of the best boxers in the world today,” Tomar said. “We are honored to be promoted by him, and we look forward to a great future and shaping Vijender as a force to be reckoned with in the world of professional boxing.”
During the 2008 Olympics, Singh defeated Badou Jack, who went on to win pro world titles at super middleweight and light heavyweight. His 2008 Olympic bronze medal made him India’s first-ever boxing medalist. He also claimed a bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships, where he defeated current middleweight contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games.
Singh is the second Indian fighter Top Rank has signed in the past few days. On Friday, the company announced it signed two-time Olympian Vikas “The Indian Tank” Krishan, the most decorated amateur boxer in Indian history, to a multi-year deal. Krishan, a junior middleweight, who is the only Indian fighter to win gold medals at the Asian and Commonwealth Games, will make his professional debut on Jan. 18 at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, on the ESPN card headlined by heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings.