After a long injury layoff, Indian football team striker Jeje Lalpekhlua is looking to pack a punch on his return to the football pitch and will be relying on some boxing training to help him come back swinging.
Having missed the last Indian Super League (ISL) season for Chennaiyin due to injury, Jeje Lalpekhlua has signed for newly-inducted ISL side SC East Bengal for the upcoming campaign. He has been training hard at his home in Aizawl to hit the ground running in the famous Red and Gold jersey.
“Boxing is a sport that really puts you through a lot of hard training, and you can always reap the benefits of that, even as a footballer,” Jeje said during an interview with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) website.
“A lot of upper body strength is involved in this sport, so that has helped me build my own strength,” Jeje added.
The 29-year-old striker also noted that boxing’s stamina training and quick footwork, too, helps his craft as a footballer.
“Feet movement and stamina are two aspects that I have gained much in from boxing. In boxing, you have only three rounds of three minutes each,” Jeje said.
“But each of those three minutes of every round is extremely intense. Preparation for something like that really puts you in good stead in terms of stamina,” he opined.
For Jeje Lalpekhlua, currently the second-highest Indian goal scorer in the ISL after Sunil Chhetri, boxing is nothing new.
“One day, my father brought home a pair of boxing gloves, and I started practising with it. Soon I took proper coaching and started competing in local tournaments too,” the India striker with 23 international goals to his name recalls.
Jeje also won a local boxing tournament when he was 10 years old. Even though the Mizo Sniper eventually shifted his focus to football, his fondness for boxing never subsided and has been a prominent feature in his off-season training.
“I really enjoyed boxing – I still do. I generally do not get the opportunity to do any boxing training routines during a busy season. But when I come home for the off-season, I do make it a point to go to the boxing academy in Aizawl,” the two-time ISL and I-League champion revealed.
The Indian football’s friend circle back home also features several boxers, including Nutlai Lalbiakkima, who stunned Rio 2016 Olympics gold medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov at the 2018 President’s Cup in Kazakhstan. Dusmatov was the light flyweight world No. 1 at the time.