Dingko Singh: How One Man Changed The Game For Indian Boxing
If you don’t know about Dingko Singh, you have a little history lesson coming up! The Asian Games Bangkok 1998 witnessed an up-and-comer beat the top three boxers of the time, one after the other. In the initial round, he beat the No. 3 player in the world and the semi finals saw him beating the No. 7 which won him a gold medal. This was not just a historic win for the Indian boxing landscape that hadn't won a medal after 16 long years but also for Dingko Singh who was crowned Manipur's first Asian Games gold medalist.
The win neither came easy to him nor without controversy. His name was originally scrapped from the squad for Indian boxing at the 1998 Asian Games for reasons unknown. But, he was miraculously selected at the eleventh hour, an opportunity he completely juiced out to display his boxing prowess by not just fighting above his weight class but triumphing over the world’s third-ranked boxer at the time during the finals.
His wins opened up a whole portal for sub-junior boxing in India as he became the very first example of a sub-junior national champion which stirred a revolution within the boxing industry in Manipur. Carving a name and fame for him, he caught the eye of the Indian Navy in 1995 who brought him to Mumbai which is the base of the Navy Boxing team to help him hone his craft.
As Dingko Singh became a name synonymous with boxing, he was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1998 and the Padma Shri in 2013 but his reign did not end here. His aim was to win in the National Games in 2000 but a fracture pushed him into early retirement. Nonetheless, nothing could keep him from boxing as post this, he served in the Indian Navy as a boxing coach with the sports authority.
2017 came with the news of liver cancer for him which culminated in him losing 70% of his liver during surgeries, leaving him unable to work. Cancer being the leech it is, came back to him for a visit during the COVID-19 lockdown. He had a relapse and after being treated in the hospital, he contacted COVID-19 and passed away at the age of 42 in his home in Manipur.
He possessed an extraordinary talent in boxing, wherein he kept his nose down and his guard always up. He was known to be quick, fast, and most importantly precise with his left hook and his right cross combination, known to be deadly with even the best hitting the floor. When he was at the top of his form, he was untouchable and got rid of his opponents with unexpected speed!
But more importantly, his rise to fame and unbridled skills contributed to putting India on the world map and gaining international success. He is known to have fought till the end with a never-give-up attitude and this was what flowed in his DNA. He positioned himself to be a calculated fighter and became an inspiration for generations to come by exhibiting his skills both inside and outside his ring.