as Randal Grichuk and Tommy Pham figure to get more playing time | Forum

Topic location: Forum home » GENERAL » General Discussion
wzh123 Feb 9
How long was the flight?Two hours. Cheap Mariners Jerseys .Could you stretch your legs?Yeah, somewhat.Did you have to wait here for long?No, its okay.Tired?Not too much.This is the end of a training session on Wednesday in a Gurgaon gym. Lee Beard, the trainer, may as well have been talking to a baby. Minutes before, Beard and Haroon Headley, trainer and assistant trainer, had put Vijender Singh, Indias most high-profile boxer ever, through an hour-long workout in preparation for a bout that should win him the WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title. His ten-minute skipping session is nonchalant and measured; you cant hear his rope in the air. This is a light workout, just for the media.On Tuesday evening Vijender was singing the national anthem at a kabaddi match in Bangalore; on Wednesday morning he was dancing with Bollywood star John Abraham in Mumbai, and in the evening he was waiting for the Gurgaon traffic to ease up so that he could quickly get out of the way a training session in front of the media. I havent slept for two days, he is heard saying during the training.Next up, on the middle Saturday of July 2016, Vijender comes home to fight in Delhi, for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific super middleweight title, within nine months of his pro debut, with a 6-0 undefeated record, all knockouts, to his name. He will fight, and in all likelihood defeat, veteran Kerry Hope, who has a record of 23-7 with only two knockouts.Pro boxing is not all about boxing. It is a business first and foremost. The success of a boxer is in the hands of the promoters, and promoters invest in boxers who can return the investment through ticket, pay-per-view sales and through television rights. This being his big homecoming, Vijender is putting himself through a gruelling promotional schedule. On Saturday he will go into the longest bout - in terms of number of stipulated rounds, 10 - of his nine-month pro career. This will be his biggest test so far. This will also be his first fight at home. It is a fight he, his promoters, and professional boxing in India, cant afford to lose.**Gurgaon, with its swank malls, its chrome-and-glass office complexes and its cosmopolitan, 21st-century vibe, is one side of Haryana, the state that borders Delhi. But Haryana has another side to it; it is a state full of despair, especially the rural parts, mired in corruption, crime and feudal politics. Female infanticide is high, the sex ratio bad. Some of the most misogynistic pop music in India has come from an artist from Haryana, Yo Yo Honey Singh. At last count, the state was recording an average of 67 crimes against women everyday. Honour killings - women being killed because theyd married or fallen in love out of caste - land grabbings, caste wars still cripple the landlocked state. Jats, the dominant community, are not given much credit for smarts. Jat re jat, saulah dooni aath (For a Jat, 16 times two is eight), goes the saying.Yet rural Haryana also has a strong and long martial reputation, supplying the armed forces with a steady stream of recruits. Some villages have at least one man from each family in uniform. Conventional wisdom suggests they do it out of daredevilry or patriotism or those close ties with the army; closer to the ground, though, the theory is that they also do it to escape - escape from the arid land, the unending feudal fights, the crime, the honour killings.An army job gives them respectability and job security. Thats also why they play sport at first. To make it easier to get an army posting through the sports quota. Falling in love with a sport is optional, playing it is mandatory.Around Bhiwani, a temple town in Haryana around 120 km west of Delhi, boxing and wrestling were the tickets into the army or other government jobs. Perhaps they just went with the notion of having to fight for everything in these parts. Boxing, though, had a role model as well: Hawa Singh, national heavyweight champion for 11 straight years. He was picked up from the Jat Regiment in the 1950s by an army boxing coach, along with Dariyaj Singh Beniwal of Kaluwas village, also in the Bhiwani area.The boxing gene skipped a generation, but Dariyajs boxing gloves were handed down to his grandsons Manoj and Vijender. By now Bhiwani had a boxing academy, where Hawas successor as head coach was the maverick coach Jagdish Singh.And so it was that, in the second half of the 90s, Bhiwani had several future Olympic stars training in close proximity to each other. It was probably natural; there was interest and motivation among people, if only to escape their lives, and there were facilities. Boxing and wrestling came naturally to them; cricket would have been too expensive anyway.So there they were, the boxers Akhil Kumar, the son of a jail warden, and Vijender, the son of a bus driver, and the wrestler Sushil Kumar, whose father was a government driver. Two future Olympic medallists among them, building a platform for alternative sports careers in a country consumed almost exclusively by cricket. While most aspiring athletes admit to coming into sport looking for escape and money, even at a young age Vijender seemed to have more. He had his grandfathers genes, and also a love for the art in boxing, which would translate into an understanding of the nuances of a sport perceived as brutish.One of the first to analyse his talent was CA Kutappa, who lost to Vijender in the nationals in 2003 and came back as a coach at National Institute of Sport in Patiala. He remembers how intelligent Vijender was even as a rookie boxer. He was very quick to figure out his opponent, Kutappa says. Thats crucial in amateur boxing because we have only three rounds of three minutes each. Vijender would figure out quickly how to fight which opponent.We study boxers before bouts, but they can change their game for particular bouts so you need to be able to think on your feet, literally. His intelligence set him apart from others.Vijender also had a conviction that stood out. He wouldnt train just to please a coach, Kutappa says. If his body didnt feel like training, he would respectfully tell the coach that, something even established players are scared to do in Indian sport; coaches are all-powerful and whimsical. When he trained, though, Vijender used to give it his all.Vijender is now Indias most high-profile boxer but he wasnt always the most eye-catching. Bhiwani showed the first signs of dominating the boxing scene in 2008: four of the five boxers India sent to the Beijing Olympics were from this town. Akhil, the flashy boxer known for his almost mocking grin and fancy footwork, was the leader of the pack. He didnt cover his face, he believed in weaving and waltzing out of the way of the fast punches that are the trademark of amateur boxing. He threw in big punches too, which was surplus to the requirements of amateur boxing. What he did, though, was attractive to watch. And he had a lip. He could have been the ad mans dream had he won a medal there.Akhil upset the world champion, Russias Sergey Vodopyanov, in the pre-quarter-final. Now he was expected to deliver India a medal. Quietly, though, Vijender, less flashy, more solid and technical, kept winning too. When Akhil and another medal hope, his cousin Jitender, lost in the quarter-finals, the Indian contingent was devastated. Quietly again, almost inconspicuously in the ring, Vijender won his quarter-final to ensure India a bronze, their first-ever medal in boxing.At that time the common notion was that Vijender got the easier draw, but its worth looking back at his opponents now. Badou Jack, his first opponent, went pro the next year; he is a super-middleweight world champion now. Vijenders next opponent was not even a boxer, but a world champion at Muay Thai, essentially Thai kickboxing, Angkhan Chomphuphuang. He was unorthodox, totally different to the opponents amateur boxers usually deal with. Vijender adjusted and won in an unspectacular fashion.In his excellent recent book, Ringside With Vijender, Rudraneil Sengupta relates that Vijender tells him how banged-up Angkhan had left him. I was sore everywhere. On my shoulder, all the ribs on my left, on my hip bone. I could not even lift my left arm. He really knew how to destroy a guy. I was not sure I could even get in ring for my quarter-final.**Vijender did get into the ring all right, won that next bout, and nothing was the same again. Suddenly the public became aware of the boxing talent that existed in the country, so far the preserve of coaches, sports reporters and the few die-hard fans. Money and attention was showered on Vijender. His brother returned from his army posting, on leave at first but never to go back. His father was given easier bus routes to drive. The Haryana Police gave Vijender a job. His association with Infinity Optimal Solutions (IOS), his managers, was now going to pay off both parties; Vijender was soon making around Rs 60 lakh ($100,000) a year from endorsements.Vijender might be a level-headed technician in the ring, but outside it he was a proper prizefighter. In Patiala, where the best boxers in India train, most are too exhausted to do anything other than rest in their time off. Vijender would drive to Chandigarh and fly to Mumbai at every opportunity he got, even if it was for two days. Journalists who have interviewed him, especially for TV, say he became obsessed with his looks, bordering on narcissism. And the man is a looker. A baby face with a chiselled body, he makes heads turn wherever he goes. Vijender loved the fame. He walked the ramp, talked with an accent, became friends with Bollywood stars, appeared on magazine covers and found access to fancy parties.In 2009, during the world championships in Milan, Vijender did something out of character. Hed just won the quarter-final, thus ensuring India a medal. IOSs Neerav Tomar had plans to take Vijender down the pro route, the logical progression for someone whod done his bit at the Olympics, world championships and Asian Games. Tomar took Francis Warren of Queensberry Promotions to watch Vijender. Warren had earlier seen Vijender in Patiala; this visit only strengthened the impression a raw Vijender had earlier left on the promoter.However, Tomar learnt from a third party that Vijender had signed a deal with a rival company, Percept Talent Management. At around Rs 3 crore ($500,000) a year, according to Business Standard, this deal made Vijender the highest earning Indian sportsman outside the cricketers and the tennis player Sania Mirza. It left Tomar bitter and he publicly denounced Vijender as being all about money, adding that he deserved his semi-final defeat because he was busy making deals on the sly going into such a big bout. The friendship was over, respect lost. Or so it seemed.Vijender moved on. He did a movie, a reality TV show, won more medals, and made the wrong kind of news when his car was found outside an alleged drug smugglers house. No charges were pressed in the end, but his boxing career slowed down. He had come as far as he could in amateur boxing, younger talent had started to emerge, the politics in Indian boxing - the Indian federation had been banned by the world body owing to corruption - had become to grate. The time had come to move on again. When Tomar got in touch with him again - an impulsive, possibly emotional message during last years Mayweather-Pacquiao welterweight title bout - Vijender didnt think twice.**At the age of 29, in 2015, Vijender did what many Olympic medallists before him - including Ali, Tyson, Mayweather, Frazier - had done: He turned pro. For an Indian, though, this move was big. He could lose his job, which depended on his boxing for India. He stood being ostracised for turning his back on the nation. And at 29 he was relatively old to turn pro. Most importantly, though, in the ruthless world of pro boxing your existence depends on the number of bums you put on seats. And India was not a boxing country. Vijender was walking into the unknown, without any assurances, without the cushions that being a star in Indian sport gets you.He could have easily had a shot at another Olympics, retired with a police job in hand, landed a plum coaching assignment, but that wouldnt be Vijender. Kutappa says, Uska hamesha se tha ki Vijender ka naam hona chahiye (He always wanted his name to be big). That took him to movies, to page 3, to Mumbai. That landed him in trouble. That brought him back to his love, boxing.There is no doubt there is scope in India for big money and fame in pro boxing, but that is so far away that it cant even be a consideration right now. There is, though, one reason for turning pro that should not be underestimated. Lots of people dont understand this, but I love fighting, Vijender says in Ringside with Vijender. Its not about money. Its about love, its about doing what feels right. In pro boxing, no one cares who you were before. Olympic champion or whatever. Its 100% pure brutal, 100% khoon kharaba?(bloodshed).Vijenders medals - Olympics, World Championship, Asian Games - now counted for squat. He had to prove himself to Warren and Queeensberry Promotions. In July 2015, Lee Beard - trainer to two world champions, assistant trainer to one of Englands best current boxers, Ricky Hatton - put Vijender through the test of commitment in his hometown of Manchester.Beard described the test to Jonathan Selvaraj of The Indian Express: a run just outside Manchester: a series of steep steps down a hill to a river, up the same way then around a field and back the steps once again. Your heart is exploding and your legs turn to jelly, Beard said. Even if you want to move them - and most dont - you cant. I have had boxers break down. Vijender completed all six circuits of the run in an hour, minutes behind the 21-year-old WBO light welterweight champion Jack Catterall, who was in the shape of his life. Beard would have been happy had Vijender completed three circuits.Next came the test in the ring. Beards first impression was the power in both of Vijenders hands. His jab was a weapon, not just a means to keep the opponent at a distance. And his right hand, the haymaker, was a shot to end bouts. Beard likes to repeat the famous Mike Tyson quote - everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth - in the context of the Vijender right hand. He also saw a man willing to learn, which was crucial because amateur and pro boxing may as well be different sports.Amateur boxing is three rounds of three minutes each in which you seek to earn points - glancing blows, mere touches, they all count - but pro boxing bouts are much longer, up to 12 rounds, and seek to annihilate the opponent. You need to forget the clever moves of amateur boxing because you need to last all those rounds. You need to hit economically but hit hard and connect when you do. There is no way you can sneak away with a win; you have to break your opponent down. Try that (hit and retreat) in the pros and two things will happen: the crowd will begin booing before the end of the first round, and someone will grab you, rough you up, and hand you your first loss, wrote former boxing manager Charles Farrell in Dead Spin.?This is timeless chess to the blitz of amateur boxing; victory here must be absolute.Beard got Vijender to unlearn his amateur footwork, found his optimum pace and the correct economy of movement, and had him ready for his debut as an undercard - essentially, the opening act before the main event in a prizefight - in October 2015 after six weeks of training. Beard brings a lot from his martial arts background to his boxing coaching. He is a big fan of keeping the opponent at a distance with what he calls a stiff arm, a tap to the opponents shoulder. He likes the jab to keep the opponents at a range so that when you have to hit you dont have to move too much, thus giving opponents less time to react. He wants the jab to be a distraction - the brain tells you you are being attacked on one side - before the big right hand is unleashed. He would spar with boxers of varying ability to build different aspects of his game.**A former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America once said, When it comes to sports, all a writer needs to know is how wonderful it feels to win, how miserable it feels to lose, and how hard it is to try. If you get paid to write about boxing and believe this, the kindest thing that can be said about you is that youre a sucker. That is Farrell in a Dead Spin article titled Why I Fixed Fights. Pro boxing is a world of smoke and mirrors. It has long been suspected many bouts are fixed. Farrells account of how Tyson v McNeeley in 1995 - the largest grossing event in sport history at that time, two undefeated fighters going against each other - was one elaborate fix is fascinating. About amateurs in the pro world, Farrell writes: It goes without saying that, to protect their promoters investments, most Olympic medallists are babied along during the start of their pro careers.Theres no denying that Vijender has been babied along. All his six opponents have been carefully handpicked. It works both ways; no big name will put his reputation on the line against a rookie such as Vijender, who similarly cannot be put up against a small-name fighter who will beat him in the first few fights. This is a world where the undefeated tag is often the bare minimum to get into the big league. All his first six opponents have been journeymen, jobbers who are expected to lose, not by the way of throwing their bouts but because thats just how good they are.Vijenders first opponent was a scaffolder from London, the second a Nottingham fireman, a father of three. The quality of the opposition kept improving gradually, testing Vijender progressively in four-round bouts, until he came up against a French journeyman Matiouze Royer, known for his ability to take punches. Royer had already taken Jamie Cox, a WBO European super middleweight champion, into the final round.In the first round, Vijender landed a big right hand, and opened Royer up above his left eye. Beard, watching from the ringside, knew it was now a matter of when and not if. Vijender, ruthless, kept causing more and more damage but Royer refused to give up. Wherever he went to create distance he found Vijender ready with his right hand. On the head, into the bleeding eye, anywhere. It was a six-round bout and Royer took the fight to the fifth round, when Vijender brought him down on his knees and followed it up by hitting him like a punching bag, at which point the referee had to call the fight off.People question Vs opponents, Beard says, but the authority with which he has beaten them is amazing. He absolutely destroyed a tough man (Royer) who had taken a champion the distance. That right hand, if he manages to connect with that, its a matter of time after that. And he is pretty accurate. He doesnt throw many punches, but he lands a lot of what he throws. This is what makes his trainers and his promoters believe Vijender is world championship material.Vijender won his next bout, against the Pole Andrzej Soldra, his first eight-rounder, in three rounds.Vijender is now into his biggest test. This will be his first 10-round bout, and he will be up against a southpaw. Left-handers enjoy an edge of awkwardness over right-handers because you dont come up against them too often. Two weeks ago Hope did a half marathon in an hour and 35 minutes. He has the experience of fighting 10-rounders over the last seven years.To prepare for this challenge, Vijender has been sparring over 12 rounds in training, four each against three boxers, all of them left-handed, which means a tired Vijender goes up against fresh boxers in the fifth and ninth rounds. Beard has relied on his martial-arts background to help Vijender use his jab as a distraction, to counter awkwardness with awkwardness, to open up Hopes body for the right hand.**Vijender is not the badass you expect a boxer to be. The stubble that he wears now gives him an edgy look, but you wouldnt think he hurts people for a living. He lives in Gurgaon so he has made it to the training session only an hour late. Beard and Headley are still stuck in traffic. Vijender sits in a corner, waits patiently, strapping up his hands even as undercard Sanjeev Singh Sahota, an Englishman of Indian origin, has his rope whirring loudly, like a sword, with the intensity of his skipping.Over the next hour and a half, Vijender finetunes and provides finishing touches to his game. He is accommodating to intruding cameras. He poses even when exhausted. That morning, hed said in Mumbai he was not going to say anything personal about Hope, or how he was going to crush him, which is rote for boxers in build-up. He debuted against a man who said he was going to smash him up in the lead-up to the bout. During the weigh-in before the Royer bout, Vijender was taken back for a brief second when Royer moved in so close the noses could touch and snarled at him. Vijender just smiled then, and focused on his own game. In a young market such as India it might not be a bad idea to present a nice hero upfront.Its past 10pm when Vijender, Beard, Headley and Tomar leave the Gurgaon gym. Beard checks with Vijender on the duration of his flights and how tired he is. You sense the amount of promotion he has had to do might be a source of frustration, but Team Singh know the business too well to complain. They instruct the gym to cut off the air-conditioning, open the doors, let it get warm in preparation for their final training session on Thursday evening. Vijender is currently a couple of pounds over; they need to lose it before going in for the weigh-in on Friday. Vijender has been asked to report three hours before the 8 pm training session so that he can do live interviews with TV stations.The weigh-in day is the longest in a fight week. The fight day just whizzes past. For a young boxing country this fight day will be a big day. Granted the Asia Pacific super middleweight belt is one of the many going around. Its vacant because its holder wanted to move to a different category and had lost interest in defending it. Winning it on his India debut, though, will be a big step for Vijender and pro boxing in India. On a personal level, this will put Vijender in the top 15 in world rankings, opening up avenues for him to face opponents from more lucrative countries.While this title is just one small step towards making Vijender a lucrative property worldwide - the real money comes in when two fighters of equal stature go against each other - not taking that step can puncture the whole professional career. In a sport as fickle as boxing, where even a momentary lapse can get you knocked out, the pressure will be big on Vijender. Once again, as in that Olympic ring in London, Vijender is fighting the big fight - for himself, his promoters, and for professional boxing in India.Wholesale Mariners Jerseys Free Shipping . Walcott is available for Saturdays home match against Southampton as Arsenal looks to extend its two-point lead at the top of the Premier League. The Gunners are currently the second highest scorers in the league but Wenger insists Walcott will add something extra to his team.Cheap Mariners Jerseys Authentic . The FA rejected Wilsheres appeal that the length of his punishment was "clearly excessive" and said Thursday his suspension begins with immediate effect. He will miss league matches against Chelsea on Monday and West Ham on Dec. http://www.wholesalemarinersjerseys.com/ . 10 VCU 85-67 on Thursday night at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Seminoles (4-0) have scored at least 80 points in each of their games. CHICAGO -- St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday has a broken right thumb and will be put on the 15-day disabled list after getting hit by a pitch in the Cardinals 4-3, 11-inning loss to the Cubs.Reliever Mike Montgomery plunked the seven-time All-Star with a 94 mph fastball on a 1-1 count with two outs and nobody on in the 10th on Thursday night.The Cardinals said they dont yet know the extent of the injury. Holliday will meet with a hand specialist Friday morning in Chicago and then return to St. Louis.Holliday immediately grabbed his right hand. He walked to first base accompanied by the trainer before leaving the field.Holliday said he had a pretty good idea soon after he was hit that his thumb was broken. X-rays showed the fracture. He said its too early to predict whether the injury will end his season.?I dont know anything other than that its fractured, but I doubt it, he saaid. Ichiro Suzuki Jersey. St. Louis is 13 games behind the Cubs in the National League Central, but the Cards are in the wild-card hunt.Montgomery said it wasnt on purpose and he was just trying to pitch inside.Holliday, 36, is in the final season of a seven-year, $120 million contract. The team holds a $17 million option on him for 2017. He is batting .242 with a .768 OPS. He and Brandon Moss are tied for the team lead with 19 home runs.Holliday has batted third in 85 of the Cardinals 115 games this season. In his absence, players such as Randal Grichuk and Tommy Pham figure to get more playing time.Its super disappointing, but its part of the sport, unfortunately, Holliday said.Information from ESPNs Mark Saxon and The Associated Press was used in this report. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys ChinaCheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '