Over the years India has produced some world-class boxers in the hopes of Olympic medal. While Vijender Singh and Mary Kom have been able to taste success in the Olympics, many have lost in their journeys and they had to turn to professional boxing in hope of success and a better paycheck. One such boxer from India is Vaibhav Singh Yadav, who has finally found his footing through pro-boxing, moving on from what he claims to be 'politics' of boxing in India.
The 25-year-old Delhi lad has already created a historic feat by becoming the first Indian to win the World Boxing Council(WBC) Asia Championship & Asian Boxing Federation (ABF) titles in 2019. Vaibhav intends to remain focussed to bag more medals at global tournaments making the country proud of him. So far in his pro-boxing career, he has played eight matches and won seven and thus only lost one with five of knockouts.
Vaibhav Singh Yadav with his WBC Asia title
Vaibhav's journey started in Delhi, whose inspiration was driven by his father. Speaking to The Bridge, he said, "My father was an amateur boxer during his time. However, owing to financial pressure he had to settle with his job in Delhi Police. It was his inspiration that persuaded me into the sport. Besides, I was an energetic and aggressive kid. So boxing was the medium for me to channelise my energy and aggression together."
Known as Ahir Boxer, Vaibhav started his amateur boxing career in 2011, while he was in school and the next year he took part in his first tournament at school level and the state level. He returned with a silver medal in his maiden appearance in state boxing championship in Delhi. However, he had to wait for a couple of years to challenge again as the amateur boxing federation was suspended. In 2017, he won the gold in the state level, earning five knockouts. "I got a chance in 2017 to be selected in the national team, where I got a good recommendation from the president of Delhi Boxing Federation. Visiting the national camp, I realised I won't get a chance to be a part of the trials. While others, who had won bronze in tournaments were getting entertained, I stood with no opportunity despite bagging a gold. I spoke to the secretary of the Boxing Federation of India, he gave me the chance to give my trials. During my trial with a senior boxer, I had kept him for three rounds. However, I started bleeding later and they made me medically retired," Vaibhav adds.
Vaibhav after winning Asian Boxing Federation title
It was a big setback for the southpaw boxer and he was already deciding to give up. When his peers and well-wishers convinced him to pursue the sport. In the hope of making a new mark, Vaibhav stepped inside the rings of pro-boxing in 2018. For a year, Vaibhav worked hard and within a year, he was playing international bouts in Germany, Kenya, Bangkok among other places. The year 2019 had been a crucial year for Vaibhav, not only did he bag the two titles, he got an opportunity to fly to the US and train there with US Olympics team coach, Marc Alfredo Gargaro. The welterweight pugilist had to fly down to his home earlier this year owing to the outbreak of coronavirus.
His training is, however, going on in full scale. "With a bit of relaxation in the lockdown rules, I have hit my training regime back again and every morning and evening, I make sure to train for at least three hours."
Vaibhav, however, expresses his disappointments of not being able to represent India in amateur boxing, and later in Olympics which particularly fuelled his decision to join pro-boxing. He points out, "Unlike others, I have never been approached by the media. Sometimes I wanted to share my story with them, but they demanded money." In between, the lockdown crisis, Vaibhav's grandfather was admitted to hospital and he was on dialysis, while his father was discharging his duties as a lifelong police officer serving the National Capital. Vaibhav has been juggling his responsibilities well between his family and boxing and hoping soon he will be able to go back to the US for his training.