Already battling liver cancer, Asian Games gold medal-winning former boxer Dingko Singh has tested positive for COVID-19, adding to his health complications which earlier came in the way of an urgently-arranged radiation therapy session. The 41-year-old Arjuna and Padma Shri awardee has been admitted to a hospital in Imphal, just over a week after returning from Delhi.
“He was negative when he left from Delhi but has tested positive on his return to Manipur,” a source close to the boxer told PTI. In a press release, the Manipur government confirmed five new cases in the state on Sunday, including one from Imphal East, where the boxer is based. The state government does not divulge the names of its coronavirus patients. “Their conditions are stable and they would be shifted to COVID Care facility at RIMS (Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal),” the government release stated.
The source close to the boxer said his nurse had tested positive for the virus during his stay in Delhi. “…just adds another battle to the ones he is already fighting. While he was in Delhi, his nurse had tested positive but he himself was negative at the time of leaving,” he added. Singh’s scheduled radiation therapy, for which he regularly travelled to Delhi, was delayed in March because of the national lockdown. He was brought to the national capital in an air ambulance arranged by the Boxing Federation of India in the last week of April.
However, his therapy could still not be completed after he was diagnosed with jaundice. He eventually took an arduous 48-hour and 2400km road journey back to Manipur in an ambulance on May 20. On the same day, the government announced the resumption of flight services across the country from May 25. “Perhaps he caught the infection in the ambulance. I don’t know, it could be anything. I guess all those who came in contact with him during his stay in Delhi will also have to be quarantined and get tested,” the source said. “It is very unfortunate, he has been through a lot in life and now this,” said another official close to the pugilist, considered a style icon for his flamboyant personality at the peak of his career.
Singh has been battling ill-health for a number of years now, starting with the liver cancer, for which he is being treated since 2017. In between, he has also suffered from jaundice. The swashbuckling former bantamweight boxer won the Asian Games gold in the 1998 edition in Bangkok. He won the Arjuna award in 1998 and was bestowed the nation’s fourth highest civilian honour – the Padma Shri – in 2013. A maverick, who inspired the likes of six-time world champion M C Mary Kom, Singh was employed with the Indian Navy and also worked as a coach before ill-health confined him to his home. Manipur has so far recorded 71 coronavirus cases, out of which 11 have recovered. The state has not seen any deaths related to the deadly pandemic so far.