New Delhi:Suranjoy Singh could have gone the Rennedy Singh way but football's loss turned out to be boxing's gain as the Manipuri pugilist went on to end India's 15-year wait for a gold medal at the Asian Championships.
The 22-year-old wanted to make it big as a footballer like his famous state-mate but his elder brother Suranjit - a former boxer himself - motivated him to take up boxing after a frustrating wait to make it to national level football. The transition, however, was not easy as it was initially unacceptable to his family.
"I was into football and seriously thought of a career in it because the game is huge in Manipur but not getting a national break frustrated me," Suranjoy said.
"My brother introduced me to boxing at that point and it was he who made me realise that success in an individual sport would fetch me a lot more recognition and satisfaction. After giving it a thought, I realised that he was right because I would have been probably lost in a team sport like football," the diminutive fly weight (51kg) boxer added.
The Navy man said once he made up his mind to take up boxing, he found it hard to convince his parents.
"They were furious and it was not before I won a gold medal at the YMCA International for the first time that they finally came around. It was hard to make them understand why both their sons were into such a tough profession," he recalled.
Suranjoy, a bronze medallist at the 2004 junior world championships, said after graduating to the senior level, it was tough to keep up with the physical demands of boxing. "It became so miserable that I was told that I was not good enough. I wasn't being considered for any international tournament and that was very hard to deal with.
"But that was long back...I promised myself that I would make an attempt to come back. I asked for a chance and competed in the last year's National Championship in Bathinda and won a gold medal to get some of the confidence back," he said.
National coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, a witness to the turmoil in Suranjoy's career, said he was amazed with the way the Manipuri recovered.
"It is amazing, he came to me and said 'sir give me a chance, I will prove myself'. I agreed and he has kept the promise. He is immensely talented and this is just the start... he has much more to achieve," Sandhu said.