London: Vijender Singh on Tuesday defended the new found aggression of the young Indian boxers, saying it just speaks of the confidence of the players, who do not get intimidated by the reputation of the rivals.
"No.. no this is a sign of confidence," Vijender shot back when asked if he thinks Indian boxers have started bragging too much.
"Earlier the aim of our senior boxers was to get selected for the Olympics. Now the young boxers want to win. The youngsters have virtually transformed this sport in India with their deeds.
"I remember that earlier senior players used to scare us by saying that our rival is a world champion or so and it is very difficult to beat him but that scenario has changed," he said during an interaction at the Games Village.
The Haryana boxer said tennis ace Leander Paes and hockey legend Dhanraj Pillay were his inspiration during the start of his career.
"I was always fascinated by them, wanted to be well known in my country like them and play in Olympics," Vijender said.
"It has been a roller coaster ride since I started boxing at the higher level. It is a dream journey which is still continuing. Sometimes I do get haunted by few bad dreams but still it is enjoyable," he said.
Recalling his earlier days, Vijender said, "Around 1999 or 2000 there used to be advertisements in papers and TV showing Paes endorsing a sports shoes. The cost of that shoe, I still remember was Rs 650, I wanted to be like him, I wanted to be brand ambassador of products but that was pure fantasy and some time I use to laugh at myself for thinking like that, But God has been great. My fantasy has turn into reality."
Going down the memory lane, Vijender said, "Hockey player Dhanraj Pillay was another big star those days. I used to read lot about him and slowly Paes and Pillay became my heroes. I wanted to travel abroad but not as tourist but like my heroes."
"Another thing which amazed me that some big sportspersons those days used to make themselves unavailable for foreign tours and that made the news. I and my friend Jai Bhagwan were awestruck because here we were struggling to get picked up for foreign tour and could never imagine of withdrawing from the foreign bound team but the big names had the luxury to pick and chose," Vijender said.
Talking about his first foreign tour, Vijender explained how overawed he was with everything.
"I was 16-year-old when I first went to Germany and that was in 2001 along with Jai Bhagwan and few others, it was a training-cum coaching programme for the junior and cadet boxer. I and Jai Bhagwan were dumbfounded when we entered the plane. That was the first flight of my life. I was speechless for few moments when I sat."
Has it been very smooth sailing from the very beginning?
"No no it was not like that. But I took the things in my stride. I had seen lows and highs but that has never affected my confidence.
Asked if he had not been a boxer what was his second choice, "Definitely army, my brother is in the army and took part in the 1999 Kargil war and we are very proud of him."
Vijender said he was satisfied with his career but he is no mood to stop.
"Not in my wildest dreams I thought of playing in three Olympics. But still, yeh dil mange more."
To the criticism that he spent most of his time doing ads than boxing, Vijender said, "I was in three advertisements in 2007 but nobody said anything that time but after I won a medal in Beijing people started noticing me and taking a dig at me but I am not bothered."
Summing up, he said, "The last 12 years have just flown. I have led a very disciplined and simple life. God has been kind to me."
What about future and he replied, "Film has just started."