Vijender Singh Beniwal is a professional boxer and politician who joined the Indian National Congress (INC) on the eve of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. His journey with boxing began after he won a bout in the state-level competition, followed by him winning a silver medal in his first sub-junior Nationals in 1997, and his first gold medal at the 2000 Nationals. He has also acted in a Hindi film, making his debut in 2014 with movie Fugly.
Vijender, who has also served as a DSP in the Haryana Police under the sports quota, became the all-India youth boxing champion in 2003, and though he was a junior boxer, he was picked for the 2003 Afro-Asian Games after taking part in the selection trials and went on to win a silver medal. He had joined the Sports Authority of India centre while still in Class V and was trained under coach Jagdish Singh.
2004 TO 2007:
Vijender competed at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, in the welterweight division, but lost to Mustafa Karagollu of Turkey. Then at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, he defeated England's Neil Perkins in the semifinal but lost to South Africa's Bongani Mwelase in the final and came back with a bronze medal. He next took part in the middleweight (75 kg) division at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and won a bronze medal. He was suffering from a back injury and was not supposed to compete, but after winning he qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
2008 TO 2009:
While preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Vijender trained with German boxers in their own country and the training involved boxers from around Europe. After winning bouts in Germany, he continued his training for the Olympics in Patiala with other Indian boxers. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, he defeated Badou Jack of Gambia and then Angkhan Chomphuphuang of Thailand to reach the Middleweight Boxing Quarterfinals.
Vijender then beat southpaw Carlos Góngora of Ecuador in the quarterfinals on August 20, 2008 which guaranteed him a medal, the first-ever Olympic medal for an Indian boxer. He lost to Cuba's Emilio Correa in the semi-finals on August 22, 2008 and shared a bronze medal.
In 2009, Vijender participated at the World Amateur Boxing Championships, but lost to Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan in the semi-final of the 75 kg Middleweight category and was awarded a bronze medal. In September of that year, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) announced him as the top-ranked boxer in its annual middle-weight (75 kg) category list.
2010 TO 2014:
Vijender participated in the invitational Champions of Champions boxing tournament in China and won a silver medal after losing to Zhang Jin Ting in the 75 kg middleweight final in 2010. At the 2010 Commonwealth Boxing Championship held in New Delhi on March 18, 2010 he won a gold medal after defeating England's Frank Buglioni. He was beaten by England's Anthony Ogogo in the semi-finals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, but in November he won the 2010 Asian Games after beating Uzbek two-time world champion Abbos Atoev in the final.
In the 2012 Summer Olympics, Vijender beat Danabek Suzhanov of Kazakhstan in the first round of the men's middle-weight 75 kg category event to advance to the next round. He then won the pre-quarterfinals bout after defeating American Terrell Gausha but lost to Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan in the quarter-final.
Vijender fought his first professional boxing match on October 10, 2015 after he turned professional and signed a multi-year agreement with Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions through IOS Sports and Entertainment. In his first match he defeated Sonny Whiting by TKO, and in the 12 matches he fought, he won 8 by knockout and 4 by decision.
In July 2009, Vijender was honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, which is India's highest sporting honour, and in January 2010 he was awarded the Padma Shri for outstanding contribution to Indian sports.
Vijender joined the Indian National Congress on the eve of the 2019 Indian general election and was immediately given the ticket to contest from the South Delhi (Lok Sabha constituency) but lost.
Vijender Singh was born on October 29, 1985 in Bhiwani, Haryana to Mahipal Singh Beniwal and Krishna and he has one elder brother. He studied at the Happy Senior Secondary School in Bhiwani and then completed his graduation from Vaish College of Education, Bhiwani. He is married to Archana Singh with whom he has two sons.
Vijender Singh updates followers through Facebook - Vijender Singh/@vijendersinghboxer, Twitter - Vijender Singh/@boxervijender, and Instagram - Vijender Singh/@singhvijender.