Dingko, was suffering from liver cancer, and he passed away aged 42. He had to undergo radiation therapy for liver treatment in January last year. He even had to sell his house for his medical treatment. He had also tested positive for Covid-19, and later recovered from it.
Dingko, who was deadly with his left hook-right cross combination, had won the bantamweight title in Bangkok in 1998 to end India’s 16-year boxing gold medal drought at the Asian Games. Kaur Singh had won gold in 1982 Asian Games in heavyweight (91 kg).
“I was one of those who was inspired by Dingko’s 1998 Asian Games gold. Later, I had the opportunity to polish my boxing skills under him when he was chief boxing coach of the Navy from 2009 to 2012,” Manipur’s Suranjoy Singh, the 2010 Commonwealth Games flyweight champion, told IANS from Mumbai.
Suranjoy, who is chief boxing coach of the Navy, said all the boxers observed two minutes of silence before they started their routine on Thursday.
“Dingko is the man who inspired me. He later became chief boxing coach of the Navy. I never thought one day I will be at the same post. I can’t believe he is no more,” he said.
Jitender Kumar, Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medallist, remembers Dingko as a boxer with integrity.
“He was a junior to me in the national camp, and he was a thorough 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 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 said.
Kumar said Dingko had a tough Thai opponent in the semis at the 1998 Asian Games.
“The local fans rooted for the Thai boxer, but Dingko didn’t get nervous. The unruly crowd even threw empty bottles at the Indian team after Dingko won his semi-final bout. We had to duck empty bottles and other stuff thrown at us. Even Dingko was hit by an empty bottle. We all escaped unhurt,” he recalled.
S. Suresh Singh, another international boxer from Manipur who represented India at 2000 Sydney Olympics, said that after the Bangkok Asian Games gold winning performance Dingko couldn’t prolong his international career due to injury.
“He got injured in 1999 and wasn’t impressive at the Sydney Olympics. He wasn’t able to train hard and became a coach of the Navy team. Later, he joined Sports Authority of India (SAI),” said Suresh.
Dingko was conferred the Arjuna Award in 1998 and honoured with Padma Shri in 2013.
Last year, Dingko tested positive for coronavirus. He recovered from it but had to undergo radiation therapy for liver treatment.
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