Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vijender Kumar shines in the Olympics, secures India's first boxing medal

Vijender Kumar secures India's first boxing medal by defeating Carlos Gongora of Ecuador during the Men's 75 kg (Middleweight) Quarterfinal boxing match of the 2008 Beijing Olympics on August 20, 2008. Vijender won on points by 9-4 and has secured a bronze medal for himself. Let's see if he is able to win a gold medal!

(Photo credit: AFP)

Vijender was mobbed, kissed and hugged by dozens of excited Indian journalists as he left the Workers Stadium arena after his historic victory. Two other Indian boxers, both also named Kumar, were eliminated in the last eight.

Vijender, the 22 year old son of a bus driver, working as a part-time model, said that he fought the bout of his life to reach the semi-finals. The pugilist is from Bhiwani and also works as a Police Inspector for the Haryana Police.

Vijender's coach, Jagdish Singh, runs his own club named Bhiwani Boxing Club. The six-footer, whose rise to stardom has been nothing short of phenomenal, took up boxing at 14 just to emulate his brother, who is now serving in the Indian army.

Vijender Kumar's Profile:
Born: 29 October 1985
Height: 182cm / 6'0"
Weight: 75 kg

Vijender's Quotes
"This is a great day for Indian boxing. We've been under a lot of pressure recently so one of us had to do it," Kumar said.

"This was the best fight of my life because I've achieved something for the country. I want to thank all the Indian people for praying for me."

Kumar comes from India's 'Village of Boxers' - Kalwash in the northern state of Haryana.

His father, who worked overtime on the buses to pay for his career, and his mother went on a special Hindu pilgrimage to the Ganges river before the Olympics.

Kumar said he had already realised his goal after finishing outside the medals at Athens 2004.

"I've been working hard from then on. Now my journey is complete," he said.

The Indian now faces a tough semi-final against Cuba's Emilio Correa, one of eight Cuban boxers to reach the medal rounds. He said he had a simple strategy for Friday's semi-final.

"Win, win and win," he said.

Kumar's medal was India's second bronze of the day after Sushil Kumar, not related to Vijender, managed the feat in the freestyle wrestling.

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