Temperamentally, the very hot-headed Ding'KO was very sharp and at the same time possessed extraordinarily scientific boxing skills. Very proud, who always held his nose high whenever he was not boxing!
This photo, especially this gold medal, is very special to me. This is the 1998 Asian Games Bangkok, Thailand wherein Ding’KO Singh stunned everybody by beating world-class boxers one after another, on his way to the gold.
In the initial round, he beat world No. 3 who was well-known in Asia too. Thereafter, he beat world No. 7 in the semis and eventually went on to win the gold medal for India.
So his progress towards the gold medal during the Asian Championship was unique and filled with a lot of excitement that truly uplifted Indian boxing.
Ding’KO Singh is a story of that successful spirit!
The grassroots level boxing that started in India in the form of sub-junior boxing is the root cause of Indian boxing success today!
And Ding’KO was the first example, being the sub-junior national champion, junior national champion that was picked up by the Indian Navy team to nurture him further. Navy coaches then brought him to Mumbai, the base of the Navy boxing team at INS Hamla, Malad.
I have known Ding’KO Singh since then. He was also chosen to represent Maharashtra in Nationals since he was a part of Mumbai and Maharashtra boxing activity, being based in INS Hamla.
This Manipuri fighter had, according to me, the hottest blood that I have ever come across.
Temperamentally, the very hot-headed Ding’KO was very sharp and at the same time possessed extraordinarily scientific boxing skills. Very proud, who always held his nose high whenever he was not boxing!
But in the ring, I have always seen his nose down and guard up always. A very, very scientific way of boxing, he was very quick, very swift and very precise. His left hook – right cross combination, would floor one of the best boxers chins and I have seen many of them going down like fallen handkerchiefs, where the boxers were hit swiftly on their chins and without realising, the next moment their knees buckled and they fell there itself where they were standing a moment ago.
Ding’KO’s rise, coming into prominence and his form – I was very lucky to have seen all that from close proximity. Not only because he was a Mumbai-based boxer, but I have been a referee judge, I remember especially in 1997 National Games at Bangalore, where I worked as an announcer most of the time and 1998 Ambala Senior Nationals, where Ding’KO Singh was just untouchable, just unstoppable and at the top of his form where he demolished and destroyed all of his opponents with extraordinary skills, speed & precision.
Dingko – was very special to me. If you notice, I always wrote ‘D’ in capital, ‘ing’ in small letters and ‘KO’ in bold capital letters since he used to ‘KO’ many of his opponents and I liked it.
When he came back from Bangkok I was there to receive him at Mumbai along with the entire Navy team and Kishen Narsi, international referee, to receive him like a hero.
His rise as a boxer gave India that much-needed confidence: Yes, we can do it. In fact, Dingko Singh’s success in 1998 was the first step in India’s rise internationally.
We indeed had some great boxers before Ding’KO too. Our boxing was always good and India’s performance in the 1986 Asian Games was one of the best performances ever. However, Ding’KO’s performance, rise and success in 1998 Games gave us that much-needed belief that “Yes, We can do it. We do have class …”
And that Ding’KO spirit was carried on by all the hard-working coaches and boxers in India and whatever we are successful today, I would say that was the first step towards the success journey of Indian boxing.
Ding’KO was indeed very close to my heart and he had great love and respect for me too. Today I remember his injuries, his hard times when he fought like a true champion. I remember young Ding’KO when we had taken him to Dr Anant Joshi for his wrist injury and his recent fightback last year when he was airlifted in an emergency. I remember many other occasions after he hung up his gloves as well, where he would call and speak very respectfully to me but in that respect, I could feel that love for me and that’s why my heart is very very heavy today as I lost one of the greatest boxers India has ever produced whose entire journey I had seen from a close quarter.
Ding’KO, you gave us that much-needed confidence and of course Ding’KO you will live forever in our hearts and your fighting spirit will help us take Indian boxing ahead.
Rest in peace, Ding’KO. We pray to God Almighty for ‘shanti’ to your soul and I am sure from up there in heaven, you will be watching over the next-gen young & budding boxers and I am sure, you too will bless them with success like yours.
*Adios Ding’KO. You are amongst us, forever . . .*
Written by Jay Kowli, former secretary-general, Boxing Federation of India
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