The Asian Games gold medalist and Padma Shri recipient had been battling terminal cancer for several years.
International boxer and award winner Arjuna Dingku Singh Ngangom, from Manipur, died Thursday morning after a long battle with cancer. Family sources said he had been battling terminal cancer for a few years.
The Asian Games gold medalist was awarded the Padma Shri in 2013 by the Union government.
He rose to prominence by winning the 1997 Kings Cup in Bangkok.
Dingku was unable to make the 1998 Asian Games squad following his exit in the second round of the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and began to drink in frustration.
He was included in the squad at the last minute and did his best to bring India their first boxing gold in 16 years.
In a previous interview, Dingku said his semifinal fight against local favorite and world number 2 Wong Prages Sontaya was the toughest fight of his career. Thai supporters threw cans of beer at him after the fight.
Dingku beat world No.3 Timur Tulyakov of Uzbekistan in the bantamweight final to corner glory.
On his return to Imphal, he is greeted as a hero. Later, the government of Manipur gave its name to a road.
He received the Arjuna Award in 1998 and Padma Shri in 2013.
âDingku was a great fighter with strong determination. Like the bronze medal at the Vijender Olympics, gold at the Dingko Asian Games popularized boxing, especially in the Northeast, âsaid GS Sandhu, who was the head coach in 1998.
Middleweight boxer Jitender Kumar, who was Dingko’s teammate at the 1998 Asian Games and the 2000 Olympics, has come a long way to memory. âDingko did his best in the final and was completely exhausted. The crowd was hostile, but he never reacted. He was a good boxer and a good human being, âsaid Jitender.
Vijender Singh, who led an initiative to raise funds for the treatment of cancer in Dingku, was moved. ” It’s shocking. When I was young, I watched his fights at the Asian Games on a black and white TV in our village. He really inspired a lot of boxers, âsaid Vijender.
Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom tweeted: âYou were a true hero of our nation. You are leaving but your heritage will live among us. TEAR.”
Dingku left his legacy as a coach. He coached the Navy team to win the tag team championship at the 2009 inter-service meet and groomed some of the top boxers, including Olympian Anthresh Lakra and Commonwealth Games champion Suranjoy Singh.
âHe was a tough builder, but he was nice after practice. His mantra was ‘No pain, no gain,’ âSuranjoy said.
After retiring from the Navy, Dingko joined the Sports Authority of India (SAI) at Imphal. The 2019 National Boxing Championships in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, where he served as Manipur’s head coach, was one of Dingko’s last assignments before the cancer recurrence last year.
The government of Manipur had honored him by giving his name to an important road in Imphal.
Many sports clubs and dignitaries regretted his death. His last rites were performed in Sekta, his native village in the eastern Imphal district. Dingko was 42 years old and is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
PM apologizes for the death
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday welcomed the passing of former Asian Games gold medalist boxer Dingko Singh and said he is a sports superstar who has helped boost boxing’s popularity.
âShri Dingko Singh was a sports superstar, an exceptional boxer who won several laurels and also helped increase the popularity of boxing,â Mr. Modi tweeted.
“Saddened by his death. Condolences to his family and to his admirers. Om Shanti,” he said.
(With PTI entries)