Vijender Singh feels Amit Panghal and Shiva Thapa are strong contenders for medals at the Tokyo Olympics, but at the same time urged the Sports Ministry and the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) to help them achieve their potential. "Amit Panghal is doing well, Shiva Thapa is doing well... we have good contenders," Vijender, India's first Olympic and men's world championship medallist in boxing in 2008 and 2009 respectively, told IANS in an interview.
Panghal's demand for a personal coach and physio was recently turned down by the BFI.
Vijender, now a professional boxer with an enviable 12-0 record in the professional circuit which he entered in 2015, said such things are not desirable and the sports ministry and the federation should take care of their athletes who give their all for Olympic medals.
"I recently read somewhere that Amit needed a personal coach but he did not get it. Boxers should not face this kind of problem. Their nutrition should be taken care of. The federation and sports ministry should take care of these things. They are there to take care of sports," said the 34-year- old.
While Panghal earned a place in the Indian squad for the Olympic qualifiers by virtue of his historic silver medal at the boxing World Championships last year, Shiva has a more complicated path. He was beaten to the World Championships contingent in the 63kg category by Manish Kaushik, who went on to assure a place for himself in the squad for the Olympic qualifiers with a bronze medal. Manish will now have to fail to go past the qualifiers for Thapa to get a chance to stake a claim in the Indian contingent for Tokyo 2020.
Asked to pick a name who he feels can surely win a medal, Vijender said: "I don't want to take one name and create pressure on him. I want India to do well."
Vijender last fought in November 2019, beating Ghana's former Commonwealth champion Charles Adamu in a lopsided bout.
"My next bout is in April. I am busy with cardio now and will then train for boxing in Manchester," said Vijender who now trains at a gym in Gurugram.
Lee Beard, who has trained professional stars like Ricky Hatton, has been Vijender's trainer since 2015. Under his tutelage, the Haryana-lad clinched the WBO Asia Pacific and Oriental super middleweight titles.