Imphal: Asian Games gold medalist boxer Ngangom Dingko Singh passed away on Thursday morning in Imphal after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 42.

An Arjuna and Padma Shree awardee, Dingko Singh had been fighting the disease since 2017. During his battle with cancer, the former bantamweight (54kg) boxer’s health woes were compounded by a bout of jaundice and COVID-19 last year.

In 2020, he had to be airlifted to Delhi and later underwent radiation therapy at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS). 

He is survived by his wife Babai Ngangom, a son and a daughter.

Dingko rose to fame after winning a gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, the first ever from Manipur, where he got a wild entry in the last minute. Dingko’s gold was also the first in 16 years for Indian boxing after Kaur Singh’s top finish at the regional showpiece’s 1982 edition.

He was bestowed with the Arjuna award the same year. In 2013, he was honoured with the Padma Shri for his contribution to the sport.

Dingko, who was employed with Navy, had taken to coaching after hanging up his gloves. “We lost a legend,” Olympic-bound boxer Vikas Krishan said summing up what he meant to Indian boxing.

Taking to his Twitter handle, chief minister N Biren Singh wrote, “I’m shocked and deeply saddened by the demise of Shri Dingko Singh earlier in the morning today. A Padma Shri awardee, Dingko Singh was one of the most outstanding boxers Manipur has ever produced. My sincere condolences to the bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace.”

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju offered condolences on his demise along with the national federation and a host of Indian boxers, some of whom have only heard tales of his dazzling persona.

“I’m deeply saddened by the demise of Shri Dingko Singh. One of the finest boxers India has ever produced, Dingko’s gold medal at 1998 Bangkok Asian Games sparked the Boxing chain reaction in India. I exte1nd my sincere condolences to the bereaved family. RIP Dingko,” tweeted Rijiju.

Sharing pictures with Singh, world boxing champion MC Mary Kom wrote, “You leave but your legacy will live among us. RIP.”

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and former CM Sarbananda Sonowal also condoled the pugilist’s untimely demise.

Stating that Dingko Singh was an inspiration, boxer Jyoti Gulia also paid tribute to him.

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