Mumbai: Leading Indian boxer Vijender Singh will be unable to defend his Asian Games middleweight title after a hand injury ruled him out of next month's event, the Olympic medallist said on Tuesday.
Singh, whose bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics helped raise the profile of boxing in India, picked up the injury during the Commonwealth Games final in Glasgow at the start of August.
"It's very disappointing for an athlete. The hand is still not stable. So I have no option but to pull out," the 28-year-old said, confirming his withdrawal from the regional multi-sports gathering in Incheon, South Korea.
After his landmark success in Beijing, where he won India's first Olympic boxing medal, Singh became the world number one in the middleweight category in 2009 and went on to win Asian Games gold in Guangzhou the following year.
His silver in Glasgow, where he was beaten on points by England's Antony Fowler, was his third Commonwealth Games medal after he lost in the welterweight final eight years ago in Melbourne and picked up a middleweight bronze in Delhi in 2010.
"I am still at the training camp (in Patiala) and was hoping to get fit. But the doctors told me to rest," the pin-up boy of Indian boxing added.
"I am not sure how long it will take me to get back to the ring but hopefully it will heal soon."
In Singh, Indian boxing found the face to match the fists that were essential in raising the sport's profile in a country obsessed with both cricket and celebrity.
His Olympic success made him Indian boxing's first real star and also brought him the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award - the highest sporting honour in India.
Occasional appearances on television shows and the catwalk following his success, as well as frequent sightings of him hob-nobbing with Bollywood celebrities confirmed his star status.
It was not long before he was signed up by the country's movie industry and he made his Bollywood debut in June, starring in a thriller about four youngsters who get into trouble with the police.
Singh has had his share of controversy off the screen as well.
Earlier this year, he was ordered by the country's sports ministry to take a test after local police accused him of using heroin on several occasions.
He came under scrutiny when a fellow boxer told investigators after a $24-million drug haul in the northern state of Punjab that he and Singh had consumed heroin supplied by a dealer.
Singh was later cleared after an out-of-competition test turned up negative.
The Indian men's boxing team won three silver medals in Glasgow. They won seven medals at the last Asian Games in Guangzhou, including two golds.