Former Asian boxing gold medalist Ngangom Dingko Singh, who died Thursday morning, will be remembered as a man who revolutionized boxing in particular and the sport in general, in Manipur – and in India.
Dinko suffered from liver cancer and died at the age of 42. In January last year, he had to undergo radiation therapy to treat his liver. He even had to sell his house for his treatment. He also tested positive for Covid-19 and later recovered from it.
Dingko, who was deadly with his left cross combination on the right, had won the light heavyweight title in Bangkok in 1998 to end India’s 16-year drought for a boxing gold medal at the Asian Games. Kaur Singh won gold at the 1982 Asian Heavyweight Games (91kg).
“I was one of those who were inspired by the gold at the Dingko Asian Games in 1998. I later had the opportunity to hone my boxing skills with him when he was head coach of the Navy boxing from 2009 to 2012.” Champion of the British Community Fly Games, told IANS from Mumbai.
Surandjoy, who is the Navy’s head boxing coach, said all boxers observed a two-minute silence before beginning their routine on Thursday.
“Dinko is the man who inspired me. He later became the head coach of naval boxing. I never thought I would one day be in the same position. I can’t believe he’s gone,” he said.
Jitender Kumar, a silver medalist in the Olympic Games and the British Community Games, remembers Dinko as a boxer with integrity.
“He was a junior for me in the national camp and was a meticulous gentleman. His indomitable spirit made him a good boxer,” said Kumar, who was also a member of the Indian team at the 1998 Asian Games.
According to Kumar Dingko, he was first eliminated from the Asian Games in 1998. “There was a lot of drama. He was later included in the Indian team. But he shut down his critics by winning the Asian Games gold,” he said.
Kumar said Dinko had a tough Thai opponent in the 1998 Asian Games semifinals.
“Local fans took root for the Thai boxer, but Dinko didn’t get nervous. The rebellious crowd even threw empty bottles at the Indian team after Dingko won his semi-final. We had to hide empty bottles and stuff. Even Dingko was hit by an empty bottle. We all escaped unscathed, “he recalled.
S. Suresh Singh, another international boxer from Manipur, who represented India at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, said that after winning gold at the Asian Games in Bangkok, Dingko could not extend his international career due to injury.
“He was injured in 1999 and was not impressive at the Sydney Olympics. He failed to train hard and became the coach of the Navy team. He later joined the Sports Authority of India (SAI),” Suresh said. .
Dingko was awarded the Arjuna Prize in 1998 and Padma Sri in 2013. Last year, Dingko tested positive for coronavirus. He recovered from it, but had to undergo radiation therapy to treat his liver.