Olympic bronze-medallist Vijender Singh, the country's most celebrated boxer, today bid adieu to his amateur career by turning professional, ruling himself out of next year's Olympics as he no longer remains eligible to represent India.
The biggest name in Indian boxing by a mile after he became the first to bag an Olympic medal -- the 29-year-old today signed a multi-year agreement with Queensberry Promotions through IOS Sports and Entertainment, that will see the middleweight fight a minimum of six times in the first year.
"I'm excited to turn pro and looking forward to the new chapter of my life. I want to train hard and perform for my country at the global level. IOS will be managing my pro boxing career along with Queensbury Promotions with broadcaster BoxNation. My immediate goal will be to work hard and make a good boxing record in the next year or so," Vijender said at a press conference here.
Vijender's professional plunge means he would not be representing India at the Olympics and national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu has said that it is bad news for the team overall.
"But he is an individual and he is free to decide his career. He must have thought something," Sandhu said.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) rules on boxers joining professional leagues other than the ones promoted by AIBA clearly state that they become ineligible for amateur competitions.
Francis Warren, heads of Queensberry Promotions -- a leading boxing promoter in the UK --, said Vijender has it in him to script history in the pro circuit.
"I'm very excited to have brought such a talented and determined individual over to the UK and can't wait to see what Vijender is capable of doing in the professional ranks after achieving so much as an amateur," he said.
"After spending the past week with him in Manchester, there is no doubt in my mind that he has what it takes to be a very successful professional boxer, not only due to his undoubted natural talent, but also due to his drive and focus.
"He has a clear idea of what he wants to achieve and I am over the moon that he will be doing that with Queensberry Promotions and BoxNation," he added.