This photo, specially this Gold medal is very special to me. This is 1998 Asian Games Bangkok, Thailand – wherein Ding’KO Singh stunned everybody by beating a world class boxers, one after another, on his way to the Gold. After initial rounds win he beat world No. 3 first in not only in that Asian Games village but across 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 this Asian championship was unique and filled with lot of excitement that truly uplifted Indian Boxing fraternity’s fighting spirit which was working very hard to raise the level of their sport for more than a couple of decades.
Ding’KO Singh is a story of that successful spirit !
The grassroot level boxing that was 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 Indian Navy team to nurture him further. Coaches of Indian Navy then brought him to Mumbai, the base of Indian 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 & having particiapated in MBA’s state meet then.
This Manipuri fighter had according to me, the hottest blood that I have ever come across.
Temperamentally, very hot headed Ding’KO was very sharp & 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 seen his nose down and guard up always. 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 down 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 a close proximity. Not only because he was a Mumbai based boxer, but I have been a Referee Judge, I remember specially 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 recieve him at Mumbai alongwith entire Navy team and Mr. Kishen Narsi to receive him like a hero.
His rise as a boxer literally gave India that much needed confidence – “Yes, we can do it”. In fact Dingko Singh success in 1998 to me was the first step in India’s rise Internationally. We indeed had some great boxers prior to Ding’KO too. Our Boxing was always good and India’s performance in the 1986 Asian Games was one of the best performance ever. However, Ding’KOs performance, rise & his success in 1998 Games gave us that much needed belief that “Yes, We can do it. We do have got 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 would also 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 & his recent fightback last year when he was airlifted in 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 ofcourse Ding’KO you will live forever in our hearts and the fighting spirit of yours 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…*
Writer is Executive Council Member, Asian Boxing Federation ASBC,
One of the Founders, Boxing India BI & Boxing Federation of India BFI and
Former Secretary General – BI & BFI, Jt Secretary IBF.