Akhil, Jitender all set to follow Vijender Singh's footsteps, to turn pro

akhil kumar boxerMore than two decades ago, when a young Akhil Kumar started boxing in his hometown Rohtak, he would spend a lot of time collecting cassettes and managing recordings of professional boxers like Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones Jr and Prince Naseem Hamed, says a report in The Indian Express, adding that and that’s what Akhil has been discussing with fellow boxer and Beijing Olympics quarter-finalist Jitender Kumar for the last six months or so.

With his plans for qualifying for Rio Olympics going awry after suffering a ligament tear in November last year, it was a period which saw Akhil resuming training once again after an injury. And on Tuesday, the 35-year-old announced he was turning professional along with Jitender as the duo confirmed their signing with IOS Entertainment, the same company which brought Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh into the professional fold.

“It was on my mind for the last three or four months and I would tell Jitu also to think about it. It’s been a challenge every time I suffered an injury and resumed training. But boxing made me do it and that’s what made me take this decision. I was keen to make the move after the AIBA decision to accept professional boxers. My wife, who is a coach now and had travelled with the Indian team to Rio and also to the professional qualifiers in Venezuela, would also tell me that I could have qualified for Rio too,” shares Akhil, who first came into the national senior camp in 2001.

According to a report in The New Indian Express, Akhil, who is still part of the national camp even at the age of 35, has decided to turn pro to extend his career. “Also, now that the international boxing association has allowed professional boxers to take part in the Olympics, this will also give us a chance to take a crack at the Olympics,” said the boxer who is known for his open-guard and aggressive boxing.

Jitender, too, was upbeat about the next move. If Akhil liked theatrics, 28-year-old Jitender loves to gauge his opponent and then trade blows. Jitender too is past his prime and had taken a break from boxing after joining Haryana Police. “Boxing is in my blood and when the AIBA permitted us to participate in the Olympics, I thought why not give it a try,” he told Express from Chandigarh. “I just want to get back into the ring. I have been keeping fit and every now and then, whenever I get an opportunity, I step into the boxing ring. So all I need to do now is to start practising a bit more.” The two, however, have not decided on the weight category. “Let’s first get the nod of our employer and then let’s see where we fit,” said Akhil. “Pro boxing is different.”