Cuttings from Newspapers on Dingko Singh

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The Hindu : December 22, 1998
The Hindustan Times : Dec 22, 1998
The Indian Express :  Dec 21,1998
The Indian Express :  Dec 19, 1998
The Indian Express : Dec 17, 1998
    COMP: The_Hindu
                         ISSU: December 22, 1998

                A pleasant surprise (Bangkok Asian Games)

               IF  SURPRISE  IS the very soul of sport, then there  were  a  few
               wonderfully  soul-lifting moments to be savoured for  the  Indian
               sports  fans during the Asian Games that concluded in Bangkok  on
               Sunday.  At  the  end of a fortnight, that seemed  to  hold  very
               little promise at the start, India finished with its best  medals
               tally  - seven gold medals, 11 silver and 17 bronze -  since  the
               1986 edition in Seoul. While this may not compare favourably with
               China's impressive collection of 274 medals (129- 77-68), what is
               significant is that the doomsday prophets have been proved  wrong
               and our athletes have done much better than they were expected to
               do. Two weeks ago, very few might have imagined that India  would
               finish  ninth  in  the medals tally and  even  fewer  would  have
               believed  that  the  much- maligned hockey team -  an  object  of
               derision  in  the recent past - would regain the  gold  after  32
               In a nation where a lethal combination of administrative  apathy,
               lack of vision and planning and, not the least, a proclivity  for
               making  political compromises has emasculated the very  structure
               of  sport,  the  success  of the  hockey  team,  the  spectacular
               ``double'' by Jyotirmoyee Sikdar in the 1,500m and 800m races and
               the gloom-to-glory saga of Dingko Singh in the boxing ring should
               represent a triumph of the spirit, more than anything else.  Then
               again,  if  the  gold medals won in billiards  and  kabaddi  only
               matched  expectations, they would hardly lose their  glitter  for
               that reason alone.

               At  a time when the country's favourite sport, something that  is
               followed  by millions with a quasi-religious fervour - cricket  -
               is  going through convulsions following the revelation  that  the
               Australian  superstars,  Shane Warne and Mark Waugh,  took  money
               from  an  Indian  running an  illegal  bookmaking  business,  the
               performances  of  ``Class  B''  Indian  sportspersons  who   have
               laboured  courageously  in  the huge shadow of  cricket  in  this
               country are certainly a cause for celebration.

               Dingko Singh  will
               never achieve the status of a Sachin Tendulkar or a Leander Paes,
               but his story is perhaps the most fascinating one to emerge  from
               the  Asian Games. Boxing's special allure has as much to do  with
               the  fact that it is perhaps the most basic of all sport as  with
               the background from which its champions emerge. From the turn-of-
               the-century  days  of Jack Johnson, when it  was  a  bare-knuckle
               sport in the United States, boxing's most engaging  personalities
               have come from urban ghettos and from the pits of rural  poverty.

               Dingko,  who until a few years ago had to make do with  a  meagre
               offering  of  "rice and dall'' in a Manipur  orphanage,  is  no
               exception. The young Manipuri boxer's only assets were his  fists
               and his hunger for success. And those fists turned fists of  fury
               not  long after he was almost denied the chance to prove  himself
               with  the Government refusing to clear his name for the  Games  -
               the  20-year  old  made the trip only after  the  Indian  Amateur
               Boxing Federation  officials pleaded his case  with  the  Indian
               Olympic Association officials.

               Dingko's  is  a typical case, something that  throws  light,  yet
               again,  on  the  murky areas of sport in this  country.  In  this
               sense, Dingko is a warning as much as he is an example. Far  from
               being  the triumph of a system, his success - as opposed to  that
               of  the  hockey team which has been well served  by  a  dedicated
               administration in the recent times - has come despite the system.

               The point is, in every street in every city, town and village  in
               this country, there is a Nobody who dreams of becoming a Somebody
               on the sporting stage, as did Dingko Singh and Jyotirmoyee Sikdar
               not  long  ago.  But a good majority of them will  never  get  to
               realise  their dreams in the absence of a scientific system  that
               can  identify them and nurture them to the top. But  even  within
               the present system, a lot more can be achieved with inspired  and
               visionary  sports management. From experts down to the  lay  fan,
               almost everyone who has anything to do with sport has an  opinion
               on  why  a  huge nation such as ours is  not  among  the  leading
               performers in sport. You can point to a hundred plausible  things
               but  the one big reason that has often escaped the  attention  of
               many is this: poor sports administration. Seldom, if ever, do  we
               trace  the cause of Indian sport's ill-health to the way many  of
               our  sports bodies are run. The silver lining provided by  Dingko
               Singh,  Sikdar, the cueists Ashok Shandilya, Geet Sethi  and  the
               hockey and kabaddi teams should, if anything, throw light on this
               area of darkness. 


 COMP: The_Hindustan_Times
               ISSU: December 22, 1998

               Little to gloat over

               Say this  for the sports officialdom in India: its pervasive presence
               at international meets is in inverse proportion to its ability to spot
               and nurture talent.

               But for the sporting excellence of individual sportsmen and women
               Jyotirmoy Sikdar and, bantamweight boxer, Dingko, in particular who
               gave this country a  sporting chance of winning a golden heptad in the
               medals tally, the Bangkok Asiad would, perhaps, have been remembered
               more for the ineptitude of ssubcontinental sports authorities than for anything
               else. It could only have happened here in India that the country
               best boxer, and best hope for its first boxing
               gold in 16 years, should be mysteriously dropped from the team
               only to be taken back again at the last minute (and that, too, on the
               insistence of an outraged foreign coach who staked his job by pointing
               out this incredible indiscretion). As grudging official
               acknowledgement that will now come Dingko
               way, politicians and bureaucrats should ponder how this 20-year-old
               pugilist could have struck a dream gold with no godfather behind
               him. And it could only have happened to an Indian athlete that she
               should inarguably be the best sprinter blooded in this part of the
               world, who scorched major racing tracks around the globe, survived two
               retirements, and a host of injuries, and yet be humiliated by being
               dropped unceremoniously from the team, without so much as a
               by-your-leave. Rather than gloat over the hockey gold and
               the modest tally of medals, this country should now seriously think
               about the way sports is administered. The world over, athletes
               are considered ambassadors of their respective countries, but in India
               they are usually conferred the status of third class citizens. Till
               such time the whistle is blown on myopic decision-makers who often
               know precious little about the sport they preside over, the Indian
               sports scene will continue to suffer in silence. A silence which is
               broken now and then by the empty promises and cheers of officials who
               say a lot more than they actually do and claim whatever credit the
               sportsmen earn for themselves in spite of these busybodies.


 COMP: Indian_Express
               ISSU: December 21, 1998

               Lord of the ring

               Dingko Singh who pummelled the World No 2, Uzbekistan's Timur
               Tulyakov, into submission at the Bangkok Asiad to win a boxing
               gold for India, has had to defeat not just
               his opponents in the ring. He has had to overcome an orphaned
               childhood and deprived family circumstances; the indifference of the
               country's sporting establishment and the ``invisibility'' of being a
               Manipuri villager.

               The Northeast figures on the national radar screen only when a Nellie
               occurs, or petroleum storage tanks in Assam go up in flames. Popular
               attitudes are, alas, both fickle and cynical but still it's good to
               know that now there's Dingko, too, to remind
               Indians of a region confined to the margins in every sense of the
               term. But  boxing, as a sport, has always had a
               way of nurturing the children of the forgotten. The Greatest didn't
               have much to commend him apart from his fists of fury, remember?
               Dingko is no Ali, perhaps, but he has displayed an
               ability to hang in there, much like the man who could dance like a
               butterfly and sting like a bee.

               Not surprisingly, both the Indian Olympic Association and the Indian
               Amateur  Boxing Federation are now scrambling to
               claim  Dingko's achievement as their own  after
               all, he has become the first Indian boxer to land an Asiad gold medal
               in 16 years. But they have quietly forgotten or, more likely, chosen
               to forget, that the 20-year-old had very nearly missed that flight to
               Bangkok. Someone, somewhere in the vast labyrinth of Indian sport had
               decided that he was out of form, was ill-behaved to boot, and had got
               his name scored out from the list of those who made it to the Indian
               squad. The gold he won should rightly symbolise not just the triumph
               of a young braveheart but the defeat of a cynical sports

               Thank heavens then, for  Dingko's ability to come
               right back even after Fate and Babudom have landed their punches. This
               lad was not brought up on a high-protein, carefully calibrated diet
               that athletes abroad are fed. It was not milk and meat for him but
               some ``rice, dal and a little curry'', as a friend who shared a
               name Dingko's days of privation in an Imphal orphanage
               recalls. Dingko's story then is the story of
               Indian sport. Sporting performances reflect more than just athletic
               prowess, it mirrors the standards of living that the participating
               countries have achieved. It's not just a coincidence that China, South
               Korea and Japan headed the medals tally at Bangkok with more than 150
               medals each.

               Athletes from countries such as India must necessarily work that much
               harder to achieve excellence, their spirit must make up for what their
               bodies lack, their will must overcome the odds the abysmal lack of
               facilities place on them. This is why Dingko
               could well become an inspirational figure for Indian sport, and indeed
               for those Unknown Indians who have the sporting talent to take on the
               world but can never step out of the margins. As for a
               name Dingko himself, he has already set his sights on the
               future. ``I have fulfilled one half of my dream,'' he told the Indian
               media in Bangkok. ``The other half can now be fulfilled in Sydney.''
               So here's to his Sports Odyssey 2000.


 COMP: Indian_Express
               ISSU: December 19, 1998

               He lived in an orphanage, but boxing kept Dingko going

                IMPHAL, Dec 18:  ``All of us, Dingko included,
               had scanty meals -- mostly rice, dal and a little curry. But
               boxing, judo and kung fu kept us alive,
               emotionally,,'' reminisces K.H. Surjit, who was India's golden boxer's
               fellow inmate at the Children's Home orphanage here where
               Dingko stayed for five years from 1987.

               But Surjit isn't complaining. Far from it. On the contrary, he has
               been strutting around like a proud peacock ever since he watched his
               one-time fellowboarder at the orphanage lift the gold at Bangkok
               yesterday afternoon.
               Material conditions aren't much better at
               Dingko's family home at Sekta village, about 20 km
               from here on the Imphal-Ukhrul road. His elder brother and youngest
               sister live there, eking out a hard existence as farm labourers. When
               Dingko's father died, his mother felt rudderless
               in the cruel sea of poverty with eight children -- four sons and four
               daughters. Then the mother went to live elsewhere and her elder sons
               died prematurely, victims of malnutrition and disease.

               But Raniton Chanu, Dingko's youngest sister,
               wasn't complaining either. On the contrary, she has overnight become
               the Rani (queen) of the village, thanks to her brother's Bangkok
               blaze. Tonight, she was the queen of hearts for the whole village as
               men and women, young and old, gathered at the village playground by
               the hillside to sing, drink and dance nightlong to celebrate the
               native's feet. ``We were so angry when they dropped him from the
               boxing squard,'' says a beaming Rani, ``we were so
               angry that we thought we will kill his coach if he is not
               included. But all that's forgotten and forgiven now.'' ``Very true,''
               adds Ibobi, a youngman from the village, already quite inebriated,
               Dingko is great, may be greater than Mike

               Dingko's coach for seven years at the Sports
               Authority of India's Special Games Area (SAG) complex here, Ibomcha
               too has forgotten and forgiven the wrong that nearly scuttled his
               inclusion in the Bangkok Asian Games Indian squad this time. ``It's a
               great moment that I knew was coming when Dingko
               knocked out the Thai boxer in the run-up to the final,'' he says. When
               the moment came, hundreds of young boys raided his home and carried
               him on their shoulders around the main streets of this town yesterday

               Like at Sekta, athletes at the SAG complex arranged a camp fire
               tonight in Dingko's honour. Boys and girls sang
               and danced around the fire that Imbocha lit. Candles burned all
               around, giving the celebration almost a ritualistic air.

               Candles burned all over the town at nightfall because Dingko</b>'s
               home State is plunged into darkness at sundown ever since the Power
               Department employees began an indefinite strike since last Wednesday,
               demanding implementation of the Pay Commission proposals.
               But the absence of power has failed to dampen jubilant spirits. Even
               the Government joined in the celebration. After
               Dingko won the gold yesterday, coach Ibomcha
               appealed to the chief minister to declare it a public holiday. It
               didn't really matter because all work stopped and everyone
               began celebrating. ``Yu'', the local brew, flowed amidst much band
               music. The policeman, who otherwise swoops on smelling youngsters
               because both the government and the insurgent groups enforce
               prohibition strictly, looked the other way. Chief minister Nipamacha
               Singh promptly announced a state award of Rs 100,000 for
               Dingko. The public holiday and the bigger
               celebrations would come the day the native hero returns home, he told
               coach Ibomcha.

               But Sekta could not wait that long. So the village rejoiced with
               music, drink and dance. And there the militants, for a change, looked
               the other way. For the village and its surrounding hills are also
               known to be hotbeds for Manipur's myriad militant outfits -- the
               People's Liberation Army, the United National Liberation Front, the
               Kangleipak Communist Party and so on. In fact, before
               Dingko, Sekta's hero was another native, the
               ``commander-in-chief'' of the KCP, Y. Ibohanbi Singh. But while the
               boxing hero won, the Communist hero failed and
               finally fell in 1996 to the bullets of the security forces.


 Source: Indian Express
               Date 17th Dec, 1998

               They dropped him from team, now  Dingko knocks officials, Govt out

                                               V Krishnaswamy

                              BANGKOK, Dec 16: The Indian Olympic Association says it
               was not responsible for his omission in the first place. The foreign
               coach staked his job by writing a strong letter which alleged wrong
               'omissions' from the team at the last minute. And the Indian Amateur
               Boxing Federation officials claim they have all along been pleading
               his case. So, if everybody wanted Dingko Singh -- India's best boxer
               for two years in a row at the Nationals -- in the team, who wanted him

                Why was he dropped and his clearance came only when the coaches and
               the media pounced on it? It could become the biggest whodunit in
               Indian sport. More so, if on Thursday, the 20-year-old Dingko wins
               India's first boxing gold medal in 16 years. Even if Dingko loses the
               final to World No. 2 Timur Tulyakov of Uzbekistan, the silver medal
               will still be the biggest slap on the face of Indian sports
                Not cleared by the government on the plea that he was `out of form'
               and `had no medal chance', his attitude was questioned. He waslabelled
               as `Ill-behaved'. In Bangkok, the very mention of his name is enough
               to make Indian officials run for cover.

                The Dingko Story has already attracted a lot of media attention
               here. And many of the experts here reckon Dingko has a fair chance
               against Tulyakov. In Bangkok, where there is a lot of illegal betting
               on boxing in the markets and the venue, Dingko is being quoted as
               60:40 favourite against Tulyakov, the Goodwill Games champion.
                ``If a boxer can beat a favourite from the host country in a
               semi-final, you can be assured that he has an excellent
               chance. Amateur boxing is full of incidents where foreign favourites
               have been adjudged losers in close fights against local fighters. So
               he has to be good,'' said one Thai official, who was present when
               Dingko beat Sontaya Wongrpates of Thailand 18-1 on points.

                Dingko's quick-footedness and his style of coming back after landing
               a few punches worthy of getting points from the computer make him one
               of the few Indian boxers who has adjusted himselfto the vagaries of
               computer judgement, which lays emphasis on specific kinds of body and
               head punches.
                So, who thought he was a bad bet? It could not have been the coaches
               -- B I Fernandes of Cuba or G S Sandhu -- for both are believed to
               think very highly of Dingko. Fernandes was among the foreign coaches
               who wrote to Sports Minister Uma Bharati, complaining that her
               department was `cutting and chopping' teams at the last minute and
               dropping medal prospects. Suresh Kalmadi, the president of the IOA,
               maintains he and his organisation are not responsible for his
               omission. ``We at the IOA have to by and large go by what the
               respective federation tell us. We send the names and then Sports
               Authority of India and the Government clears them. In Dingko's case
               his name was sent for the team but the Government struck it off
               thinking he was not a medal prospect,'' says Kalmadi.
                Dingko has been specifically asked to keep quiet. And the Manipuri
               youngster sticks to the line: ``I don't know why I was dropped and
               howI was included again.'' He says nothing about the reports of his
               being depressed and his drinking bouts. Maybe he will after the Games,
               but for now he wants to concentrate on the biggest fight of his
                How did he get back into the team? ``Again, I don't know,'' says
               Kalmadi. But other officials concede that the coaches' letter,
               reported by The Indian Express did play a role. Hours before the
               boxing team's departure, the IOA received the message that Dingko had
               been cleared and the boxer, who was already in Delhi, left with the
               team. But IOA has no answers to why they did not announce his
               clearance, as it did about many others.
                ``Just as it always happens, in the days leading to the Asian Games,
               a few names kept trickling in almost every day with clearances from
               the Government. It all boils down to who had how much clout with the
               ministry and get clearances,'' says an official accompanying the
               Indian contingent.