Ask any citizen to name some Indian Boxers and you will be bombarded with the names Mary Kom and Vijender Singh. Hardly anyone will mention the name Ngangom Dingko Singh, who not only brought India the much-needed recognition in 1998 but also taught us how to battle any obstacle that life plants in our path.
The public would perhaps come to know more about this under-rated athlete once his biopic, featuring actor Shahid Kapoor in the lead, hits the theatres tentatively in the latter half of 2019.
Before the release of the film, here are some facts about the Manipuri pugilist that every Indian should know:
1) Born under extreme poverty, Dingko was forced to grow up at an orphanage as her widowed mother had a tough time raising her 8 children.
2) However, his knack for boxing was spotted by some officials from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) when the agency had launched the “Special Area Games Scheme” to find innate talent for competitive sports and games from tribal and rural parts of the country.
3) Dingko Singh was a mere 10 years old when he bagged his first title, in the Sub-Junior National Boxing tournament in Ambala. With this performance, he caught the eye of many boxing coaches.
4) His next notable laurel came at the age of 18, when he clinched the prestigious King’s Cup in Thailand (also referred to as the ‘Thailand International Invitational Boxing Tournament’).
5) The year 1998 can perhaps be called the best year of his career as he bagged a Gold in the 54-kg Bantamweight category at the 13th Asian Games, Bangkok; thus, ending India’s 16-year-long wait for an Asiad Gold.
6) Boxer Mary Kom, who also happens to be from Manipur, cites Dingko Singh as her sole inspiration.
7) Singh’s promising career, however, came to a sudden halt after the 1999 National Games, where he fractured his wrist, an injury from which Dingko would never completely recover, courtesy of callous sports officials.
8) Following this, Dingko was knocked out in the 1st round of 2000 Sydney Olympics and this, more-or-less, marked the end of his boxing career.
9) For his success at the 1998 Asiad, the Manipuri pugilist was awarded the Arjuna Award, along with a home and a job by the Indian Navy. Later, in 2013, he was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri.
10) After having spent a few years in the Navy, Dingko returned to the field of boxing in 2013, though this time as a coach.
11) In February 2017, it was revealed that Dingko Singh had been diagnosed with Bile Duct cancer, owing to which 70% of his liver had to be removed.
12) In order to pay for his medical treatment, Dingko had to sell his house, which the government had provided to him in 1998 as mentioned (in point 9) above.
13) He had to undergo as many as 13 rounds of chemotherapy to heal completely.
14) Seeing his plight, a few sportspersons, including Gautam Gambhir and Sarita Devi came forward to help him financially. The Indian Cricketer also took to twitter asking for people’s support with the following tweet:
15) In an interview, Shahid Kapoor, while discussing the biopic, said that Dingko had almost become a naxalite.