Vijender Singh Beniwal (born 29 October 1985), is an Indian professional boxer. As an amateur, he won bronze medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2009 World Championships and the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as well as silver medals at the 2006 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, all in the middleweight division.
In June 2015, Vijender Singh turned professional and signed a multi-year agreement with Queensberry Promotions through IOS Sports and Entertainment. This ruled him out of 2016 Olympics which would have been his fourth.
After his 2008 Olympic win, Vijender emerged into mainstream media prominence in India and became the latest pin-up boy. Apart from boxing, Vijender took part in ramp shows also. However he commented that with partaking modelling, he wished to “bring the game [boxing] in the limelight, make it as popular as possible and catapult it to its deserving place at the top.” He has regularly spoken against the bias that Indian media has promoted only cricket as the sole game in India. In an interview with The Kolkata Telegraph, he commented:
Thanks to the media, people have started taking boxing seriously over the past two years. Everyone knows my name now because my achievements have been highlighted. Lekin boxing ka toh kuch promotion hi nahin hota India mein. (But boxing is still not promoted in India!) We don’t have boxing academies, we don’t even have proper boxing rings. I have lost count of the times I have approached the government and the sporting authorities for support, but nothing has happened. […] In this country, everyone is hung up on cricket. Forget about boxing, India is doing so well in other sports too. Saina Nehwal is a great badminton player, the Indian tennis team has just won a Davis Cup tie, lekin hamare liye support kahan hai? (but where is the support for all of us?)
Although previously denied by him, Hindustan Times reported that the boxer took up a role in the part real part fictional Bollywood thriller tentatively titled One, to be directed by South Indian director Anand. The film was later revealed to be named Patiala Express, which is produced by Percept Limited. Shooting for the film was supposed to begin in early 2011. However, on 17 May 2011, Vijender married Archana Singh, a software engineer with an MBA degree, from Delhi. The wedding was solemnised in Delhi in a simple ceremony, and reception was organised at his native place Bhiwani. However, the wedding prompted the filmmakers to drop him from the project, as they felt that Vijender would not enjoy the same popularity among female fans. The film’s launch was widely reported in March 2011, and actor Govinda had confirmed Vijender’s debut with his daughter. Vijender refused to confirm if he has indeed been dropped from the film, saying that “I have to concentrate on my boxing. Wait before you see me in films.”
Before the 2012 London Olympics, Vijender spoke to The Wall Street Journal about the increasing government bias to boost cricket. “I still fail to understand why only cricketers are given perks like free land, and so on. Come on, we boxers aren’t that bad either: We’re smart, intelligent and decent looking too! I’m working really hard to make my country proud. I hope someday my turn comes, too” he clarified. Vijender was approached by Percept Picture Company to act as a guide and counsellor to participants taking part in the Indian version of the boxing reality show The Contender, which follows a group of boxers competing with each other in a single elimination style-competition. He agreed despite being still contractually obligated with Infinity Optimal Solutions (IOS), a celebrity management firm who dealt with his media appearances and ramp walks as a male model. IOS successfully petitioned the Delhi High Court to bar him from entering into any deal with Percept.
Vijender appeared on Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s game show 10 Ka Dum. He was accompanied by Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat. Other appearances includes the fourth season of the Indian dance reality show Nach Baliye with actress Bipasha Basu. Vijender is credited by the critics and the media for bringing the sport of boxing back into the limelight in India. His rise to the top rank of the boxing world has been an inspiration for the younger generation and has brought more aspirants and followers, to the sport.
Vijender was one of the judges on the MTV Reality TV show Roadies X2.