Bangkok, June 10: Asiad gold medallist boxer Dingko Singh died on Thursday after a long battle with liver cancer. Dingko, 42, inspired a generation of Indian boxers with his memorable ring craft and flamboyant personality.
The Manipuri boxer had been fighting the disease since 2017. He is survived by his wife Babai Ngangom, a son, and a daughter. During his battle with cancer, the former bantamweight (54kg) boxer’s health woes were compounded by a bout of jaundice and COVID-19 last year.
Dingko who won his maiden national title (sub-junior) as a 10-year-old, was among the first modern stars of Indian boxing with his Asian Games gold and inspired the likes of six-time world champion M C Mary Kom among others.
Reacting to the sad demise of the boxer, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Thursday, “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.”
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
“We lost a legend,” Olympic-bound boxer Vikas Krishan said summing up what he meant to Indian boxing.
Dingko’s gold in the Bangkok Asiad was the first in 16 years for Indian boxing after Kaur Singh’s top finish at the regional showpiece’s 1982 edition.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju offered condolences on his demise along with the national federation and a host of Indian boxers, some of whom have only heard tales of his dazzling persona.
“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,” Rijiju said.
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 with his Asian Games gold and inspired the likes of six-time world champion M C Mary Kom among others.
“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,” said Mary Kom recalling the iconic boxer who faded from the scene after cancer took its toll on his body.
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
“Life is so unpredictable,” she said.
A fearless competitor in the ring, Dingko beat two Olympic medallists — Sontaya Wongprates of Thailand and Timur Tulyakov of Uzbekistan — en route to the Asian Games gold medal in Bangkok, which was a remarkable feat for an Indian boxer at that time.
Ironically, he wasn’t the original pick for the Games and made the cut after registering his protest by “threatening to commit suicide”. He was eventually picked and justified his presence with a performance that is the stuff of legend.
“May his life’s journey & struggle forever remain a source of inspiration for the upcoming generations,” added India’s first Olympic-medallist in boxing Vijender Singh.
Dingko has bestowed the Arjuna award the same year he won the single biggest medal of his career. In 2013, he was honored with the Padma Shri for his contribution to the sport.
He was also an Olympian, having represented the country in the 2000 Sydney Games, where he could not progress beyond the pre-quarters.
An employee of the Indian Navy, Dingko had taken to coaching at Imphal’s Sports Authority of India Centre after hanging up his gloves but illnesses came in the way of his progress and he was mostly confined to his home in the latter part of his life.
He was airlifted to Delhi last year after it came to light that the COVID-19 lockdown had prevented him from getting crucial radiation therapy for his cancer.
Upon landing here, about of jaundice did not allow for the therapy to be carried out. He went back to Imphal in an ambulance and contracted COVID-19 on reaching back home.
He went on to spend a month in hospital to recover from the infection.
Check out the reactions:
I’m shocked and deeply saddened by the demise of Shri N Dingko Singh earlier in the morning today. A Padma Shri awardee, Dingko Singh was one of the most outstanding boxers Manipur has ever produced. My sincere condolences to the bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/oVLt9gZJaG
— N.Biren Singh (@NBirenSingh) June 10, 2021
— Mary Kom OLY (@MangteC) June 10, 2021
My sincerest condolences on this loss May his life's journey & struggle forever remain a source inspiration for the upcoming generations. I pray that the bereaved family finds the strength to overcome this period of grief & mourning 🙏🏽 #dinkosingh
— Vijender Singh (@boxervijender) June 10, 2021
— Vikas Krishan Boxer (@officialvkyadav) June 10, 2021
— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) June 10, 2021