Should we leave it empty? Let the white space speak for itself? Like a shining white shroud. Dingko Singh is no more!
He doesn’t have to be a shroud. Instead, a proud white naval uniform. The blank space in our minds, or in his obituary, should be reminiscent of the crisp, crisp, crisp white uniform he wore when receiving the Padma Shri from the President of India. No, we have to go back further. The Padma, after all, arrived late for Dingko. In 2013. The whitish hue should remind us of the jacket – intermittently dotted with national colors – he wore during the medal ceremony of the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998, the podium that elevated him to the rank of legend . A podium that we are talking about in more than two decades, and a podium that defined Indian boxing at the end of the 20th century.
Today, although glued to Youtube – closest to vice these days – the attempt was to capture glimpses of the boxer in his youth and corroborate faded memories. Failing that – there are no videos of him and his famous fights from Bangkok or elsewhere – I turned to boxers in my repertoire while carefully avoiding his closest friend who lives next door. His loved ones are in mourning and this space must remain sacrosanct.
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Some of Dingko’s contemporaries say he had an inherent anger that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way but led to better performances in the ring. It also led to this wrist injury which ultimately cut his career short. He apparently trained through the pain, but couldn’t fight and win through the pain barrier. By the time the 2000 Sydney Olympics arrived, the injury may have had him stuck in the larger ring.
They avoid the word arrogant for Dingko, for that it was not. A boxer who was in the national mix a generation before Dingko spoke of his angry temper and justified it by saying that this is how boxers should be – “a little crazy”. He described Dingko as an almost perfect boxer – as perfect as the Indian boxing system could make at the time, given that things weren’t exactly good. Aggression and power with technique – the left hook, a surprise punch and the right right, he recalls, while explaining how Dingko almost never succeeded, thanks to the politics that defined boxing and the sport Indians in the 1990s, more than reality. boxing. Dingko went through it all and made his mark because he was a genius. Although his CV only hints at a climax, there would have been more if India had been ready for someone like him. The country and its boxing establishment were not, and Dingko has a lot to do with the take-off of boxing from 1998.
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Another boxer describes Dingko as an “uncontrollable genius”. I wondered what he meant by “uncontrollable”. Perhaps he was asserting Dingko’s refusal to please the officials. He has been brash in pointing out the shortcomings – whether for himself or for the team. And it shines a light on his confidence, both inside and outside the ring, armed not only with aggression, but with a very correct, almost perfect understanding and execution of the basics of sweet science. – jabs, hooks and uppercuts, and straight to the right.
Dingko Singh has inspired many boxers to aspire beyond their obscure villages, poverty to greater heights. Dingko, perhaps, was all that has been described of him since his death early this morning. Maybe he isn’t either. We may never know for sure now that he’s gone, left without a biography script – whether it’s a book, a boxing academy, or the non-existent hall of fame Indian boxing should institute. Then again, what is the need for a biography, or a highlight reel or knockout, when immortality in sports is and should be defined by the sepia-tinted memories of real moments in our gray cells? aging.
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There are vague images of Dingko’s best moments still etched in the back of my mind, in the subconscious perhaps. I had watched the fight on an old family TV at home years ago. Dingko was busy with a flurry of punches, all of which landed. A straight right. A right hook. No, a left hook. It was difficult to keep up with the punches. I don’t remember the opponent. I remember – for no particular reason – that he was wearing red and would rather not google that fact. His last opponent in Bangkok. Let journalism be restricted in this obituary. Because the only name that mattered to us at the time was Dingko, and what matters now is also him. Celebrating how he boxed, or how he lived his life, or how he fought opponents or defeated cancer and Covid doesn’t make sense now. Are almost rhetoric despite the sincerity of the attempt.
Rest in peace champion!
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