New Delhi: Drawing flak from some quarters after turning professional, star Indian boxer Vijender Singh on Friday got the backing of Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who met him here and asked him to ignore the criticism.
Vijender, who signed up with the UK-based Queensberry Promotions earlier this month for a four-year deal, met the Minister and discussed his decision to quite amateur boxing with him.
"I spoke to him this morning and he told me that I could come over for a meeting. And it was wonderful because I explained to him that professional boxing was the obvious next step for me after representing India in three Olympic Games," Vijender told PTI after the meeting.
"He was extremely supportive of my decision and wished me all the luck," added India's first Olympic and World Championships bronze-medallist, who was also ranked world number one in middleweight at the peak of his amateur stint.
Vijender's decision to turn pro has been met with mixed reactions so far and he has drawn some criticism for bidding adieu to amateur boxing just one year before what could have been his fourth Olympic appearance.
However, Vijender said the Sports Minister held no such views.
"He knew of the noise being created about my decision but he told me just ignore all that and do well. It was morale-boosting to meet him because he told me that he thoroughly enjoys watching professional boxing. He said that he had seen the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather bout recently," the strapping six-footer said.
Vijender would be making his professional debut in September in the UK and might be seen fighting in India in December.