New Delhi: Ngangom Dingko Singh, former Asian Games gold medalist boxer died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 42.
Dingko, who hailed from east Imphal in Manipur, was first diagnosed with liver cancer in 2017. He also tested positive for Covid-19 in May last year but recovered.
Condolence messages poured in after the news of Dingko’s death broke, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling the former boxer a “sporting superstar”.
Shri Dingko Singh was a sporting superstar, an outstanding boxer who earned several laurels and also contributed to furthering the popularity of boxing. Saddened by his passing away. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 10, 2021
Olympic medalist Mary Kom said Dingko was a “true hero of our nation”.
“He was a rockstar, a legend, a rage. I remember I used to queue up to watch him fight in Manipur. He inspired me. He was my hero. It is a huge loss. He has gone too soon,” she said.
— Mary Kom OLY (@MangteC) June 10, 2021
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said Dingko was “one of the finest boxers India has ever produced”.
I’m deeply saddened by the demise of Shri Dingko Singh. One of the finest boxers India has ever produced, Dinko’s gold medal at 1998 Bangkok Asian Games sparked the Boxing chain reaction in India. I extend my sincere condolences to the bereaved family. RIP Dinko🙏 pic.twitter.com/MCcuMbZOHM
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) June 10, 2021
Hot-blooded boxer with a scientific technique
Dingko Singh was a former bantamweight boxer who inspired an entire generation of boxers. He defeated Sontaya Wongprates of Thailand and Timur Tulyakov of Uzbekistan to win the gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games. He wasn’t initially selected for the Games but was picked after he “threatened to commit suicide”.
Dginko Singh was only 10 years old when he won the sub-junior national boxing championship in Ambala. He made his international debut in 1997 in Bangkok with the King’s Cup.
Dingko also participated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2013.
Jay Kowli, former secretary-general of the Boxing Federation of India, said Dingko was the hottest blood that he has ever come across. “However, he was also extremely scientific in his boxing. And for all his hot-headedness, he always had his nose down and guard up to protect himself at all times,” Kowli wrote.
Perhaps, he adopted the same fighting style in his battle against cancer. He underwent 13 rounds of chemotherapy. After testing positive for Covid, he said: “It was not easy but I told myself, ‘ladna hai toh ladna hai’. I was not prepared to give up, no one should.”
He was also an employee of the Indian Navy and took up coaching at Imphal’s Sports Authority of India centre before he was diagnosed with cancer.
“He was exceptional in the ring and a character off it. What a talent and equally sad is how he could not achieve more,” former national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, who was in charge during the 1998 Asian Games, told news agency PTI.
In 2018, it was announced that Shahid Kapoor would act in a biopic on the pugilist. The movie is set to release in 2022.
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