New Delhi: Former Asian Games gold medallist Ngangom Dingko Singh, who passed away Thursday morning, will be remembered as a person who revolutionised boxing in particular, and sports in general, in Manipur – and also in India. Many of the current crop of boxers have always idolised the fighting spirit of the man who gave India their first boxing gold after 16 years at Bangkok in 1998.
Dingko was one who never backed away from a fight, be it even if it was against as dreaded an opponent as cancer. He was suffering from liver cancer and passed away at a young age of 42. But before going down in the ring of life he fought to the very last. He was undergoing radiation therapy for liver treatment in January last year. He even sold his house for treatment. He had also tested positive for Covid-19, but beat the virus. However, he failed to land the knockout punch against cancer.
Dingko was deadly with his left hook-right cross combination. He had won the bantamweight title in Bangkok. Before him Kaur Singh had won gold in 1982 Asian Games in heavyweight (91 kg).
India’s only medallist at the Olympics (Beijing 2008, bronze) Vijender Singh stated that Dingko was a huge inspiration for him. “At the age of 13-14 when I dreamt of becoming a boxer, all I wanted was to shake his hand, take a picture with him,” said Vijender. “Dingko Singh was hero to us… his death is a massive loss to Indian boxing,” Vijender added.
The Manipuri superstar, who won his maiden national title (sub-junior) as a 10-year-old, was among the first modern stars of Indian boxing. Among others he inspired the likes of six-time World Champion MC Mary Kom.
“He (Dingko) 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,” Mary Kom said. “Life is so unpredictable,” she added.
Dingko was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1998 and honoured with Padma Shri in 2013.
Jitender Kumar, Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medallist, remembers Dingko as a boxer with integrity. According to Kumar, Dingko was initially dropped from the 1998 Asian Games squad. “There was a big drama. He was later included in the Indian team. But he shut his critics by winning the Asian Games gold. He was a fighter who never gave up,” Kumar said.