At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, not much was expected from the young Vijender Singh with the experienced Akhil Kumar easily the biggest medal prospect. But while Akhil failed to make the semis, Vijender created history by winning bronze and thus becoming the first boxer to win a medal in Olympics for India.
Vijender started off by defeating Gambia’s Badou Jack 13–2 in the round of 32. In the round of 16, he beat Angkhan Chomphuphuang of Thailand 13–3 to reach the middleweight boxing quarter-finals. Here, he overcame Ecuadorian southpaw Carlos Gongora of 9–4 in the quarterfinals to ensure him the bronze. Vijender lost 5–8 to Cuba's Emilio Correa in the semi-finals and shared a bronze medal with Ireland's Darren Sutherland.
His Olympic bronze earned him a series of awards back home, including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the country’s highest sporting honor, in 2008. A few months after Vijenders arned a bronze at the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championship in Milan, he was declared the world No. 1 middleweight boxer by the AIBA International Boxing Association.