How has the response to your pro boxing career been back in England – among fans and even your opponents?
Everyone is really excited over there. I can’t tell you the number of calls I got from the Indian community, and even from some Indian officials who are there. People invite me to a lot of events and other things when I’m in Manchester. People are excited about the fact that I’m doing what I am over there.
Even common people on the street. Like a taxi guy told me the other day, ‘I’ve seen you somewhere. You’re the guy who fights, right?’ I said yes. So that’s the kind of buzz there.
That must give you a lot of motivation when you fight, isn’t it?
Of course. There were people who came from India just to watch my third fight (in Manchester), from places like Faridabad, Gurgaon, Delhi. I met all of them after the fight. And they told me ‘Vijender, we’ve come here just for you‘. People even came from London, Leichester, Liverpool. I can’t name every city (laughs). When you enter the ring and there are people shouting ‘India, India‘ even in Manchester, it’s a different feeling. Bahut mazaa aata hai (it’s a lot of fun).
Your trainer Lee Beard said he has seen a lot of boxers around the world, but none with the kind of passion you have. Where does that passion come from?
It’s difficult to explain that in words, honestly. I think one should learn from experiences. I’ve fought so many bouts in my amateur career, be it fighting for a medal at the Olympics or at the World Championships. I learnt a lot from those fights. I’m 30, and I can now say that I have the experience. I’m surviving in pro boxing only because of that.
Before your fights, you sound like you’ve already won. Are you truly that confident before every fight?
Yes. 100 per cent. It’s because I meditate. I don’t do it a lot, but I do it whenever I’m all by myself. It’s like visualising before the fight. I visualise myself entering the ring, the song playing loudly as I stare at my opponent. So, it’s like you’ve already seen everything beforehand, and thus I know exactly what’s going to happen inside the ring. Also, if you know you’ve worked hard from the bottom of your heart, you will be confident. If you haven’t, no matter how much you try to show it, you won’t be.
So even if you’re up against a great boxer, let’s say Floyd Mayweather, you’ll have the same level of confidence?
Absolutely. Confidence is the first step, isn’t it? If you’re not confident about yourself, I don’t think you can ever become a champion. I always think of becoming a champion. If you don’t walk into the ring feeling confident about yourself, your opponent will feel he can beat you. It can be seen in your face.
You’ve started your pro career with a bang. But now there will be pressure on you to maintain that level in your future fights, isn’t it? People’s expectations will also go up.