'I want to give this title to the people of China because it is all about peace, it is all about India-China friendship.'
Rediff.com's Harish Kotian speaks to Vijender Singh after he won the WBO Oriental Super Middleweight title.
After Vijender Singh outboxed China's Zulpikar Maimaitiali in a hard fought encounter in Mumbai on Saturday, August 5, night, to retain his WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title and also win the WBO Oriental Super Middleweight title.
In a surprise gesture, Vijender announced after his victory that he wanted to return the WBO Oriental Super Middleweight title belt to Maimaitiali to spread the message of peace between India and China, referring to the ongoing military standoff between the two nations in the Doklam Plateau.
"I want to dedicate this title to India-China friendship because the tension on the border is not good. I have seen in the news that the issue keeps going on and on which is not good," the champion said.
"I want to give this title to the people of China because it is all about peace, it is all about India-China friendship. I hope he takes the message of friendship back to China," Vijender said.
"Hindi China bhai bhai!! (Indians and Chinese are brothers!!)," Vijender said.
He had earlier decided to dedicate the victory to his son Abeer who celebrated his fourth birthday on Friday. But he had a change of mind after his victory.
"I would have dedicated this title to my son, but I want to dedicate it to India-China friendship because I want to spread the message of peace," Vijender said.
"I will take a lot of gifts for my son, but this belt I will give it back to Zulpikar," he later revealed to Rediff.com.
"If he doesn't take back the belt, I might courier it to China," he added.
Olympic bronze medallist Vijender, 31, faced one of the toughest challenges of his pro boxing career and was made to work really hard for his ninth victory.
He pointed out that Zulpikar tried to unsettle him by using unfair methods, including punching below the waist.
"For me, the fight was not difficult. But because he hit me below the waist, it made a big difference. I was superior in the first six rounds, but after that he started playing foul and that affected me," Vijender said.
"If you see the video of the bout, you can see how painful the blows were. Thankfully, the referee gave me time to recover."
"I never gave up and continued to fight till the end and ultimately I emerged the winner," he said.
"I didn't expect him to give such a tough fight. He lasted 10 rounds which was good to see because mostly you see Chinese products don't last long," the Indian champion added.
"It was an amazing fight."
"Pro boxing will grow in India," he said, "it will become bigger in the years to come."
"A lot of senior boxers are taking up pro boxing, so it will continue to grow and we hope to take it around the country."