Mumbai: India's star boxer Vijender Singh, who failed to bag a medal at the London Olympics after being billed as a major podium hope in the run-up to the Games, has set his sights on the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro before considering joining the professional ranks in the ring sport.
"I am not looking at (turning) professional right now.
Let me play one more Olympics (in 2016 at Rio in Brazil). Then I will look at it," Vijender told PTI.
Vijender had provided the country with its first ever Olympics medal from the boxing ring by securing a bronze in the 2008 Games in Beijing, but returned empty-handed from London.
Countering criticism in some quarters that he was busy endorsing brands than focusing on boxing after crashing out in the quarter-final stage in London Games, Vijender said, "People just talk. If I had won the quarter-finals then people would have been running around me. It is a part of sport."
The pugilist gave a thumbs down to the proposed change in rules of AIBA (world amateur boxing body) that would do away with head-guards in elite men's competition as he thought they would not be in the interest of amateur boxing.
"Let us see what the impact will be. If you implement it from childhood days, then the pain bearing capacity increases.
In amateur boxing if you apply these professional rules, then I don't think it is good for amateur boxing. Amateur boxing will be slowly finished then.
"The difference between amateur and professional is that there is more safety in amateur (boxing). If you remove this, then there will be no safety. I don't think it will be profitable to anyone," said the 26-year-old boxer.
AIBA has passed a motion, after its last executive committee meeting, to stop the use of head-guards in all elite men's competition from next year.
Vijender currently takes part in the 75kg category and has plans to move to a higher weight category at 81kg, but said this shift would take place gradually.
"When I participated for the first time, my weight was 36 to 39kg. Then 42-45. Later 48-51 kg. Then slowly I have been changing my weight category. I am still planning about it (81 kg).
"The national camp has not started. When I reach there, chief coach G S Sandhu and I will plan. We will discuss and prepare a chart on how we can do it. So let's see," he said.
Vijender hopes to compete for the next five years in the sport and is taking it tournament by tournament and not setting any long term targets.
"The last (retirement) age for boxing is 32 or 33. There is still time. So you can hope that I play for a long time," said the star boxer hailing from Haryana's Bhiwani district.
"There is nothing special this year. So I am just doing normal fitness and training. I am going step by step. Next year there is the world championship, then the Asian Games (2014). I am taking it a tournament at a time," he said.
From the current lot of boxers, Manoj Kumar, Vikas Krishan, Sumit Sangwan and Jai Bhagwan have impressed Vijender, who said he himself had learnt a lot from his seniors.
He debunked reports that he was going to act in movies and appear in a TV reality show.
"I have not signed any movie and there are no plans. I had already announced that I won't come to (TV reality show) Big Boss. Offers had come through different companies asking if I wanted to participate in Big Boss, but I had refused," Vijender clarified.
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