September 24, 2019
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    SL boxing looking for Cuban coach to boost medal prospects

    May 15, 2019

    Gold Coast Commonwealth Games boxing medals winners (from left) Thiwanka Ranasinghe, Anusha Kodituwakku and Ishan Bandara.Sri Lanka’s best chance of winning medals in boxing at international level is by competing in the lower weight classes, according to Dian Gomes, president of the Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL). “People get annoyed when I concentrate on three or four weights. I know heart of hearts that we Sri Lankans cannot produce heavyweight boxers. We can’t last even one minute in the 91kgs, 81kgs or 75kgs against the Russians, Cubans, Kazakhs, Chinese or Mongolians. We don’t have the DNA unless it’s one-off where we can produce a Sri Lankan six-footer who can take a brutal punch and who has been trained from small days,” Gomes said.

    Sri Lanka’s best chance of winning medals in boxing at international level is by competing in the lower weight classes, according to Dian Gomes, president of the Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).“People get annoyed when I concentrate on three or four weights. I know heart of hearts that we Sri Lankans cannot produce heavyweight boxers. We can’t last even one minute in the 91kgs, 81kgs or 75kgs against the Russians, Cubans, Kazakhs, Chinese or Mongolians. We don’t have the DNA unless it’s one-off where we can produce a Sri Lankan six-footer who can take a brutal punch and who has been trained from small days,” Gomes told the Daily News.

    The National Boxing Selection Committee headed by General Jagath Jayasuriya will having a meeting this week and look at how they are going to pick a development squad with a long-term objective in mind.

    “We want to start looking at two or three boxers as potential medal prospects for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Our main focus is Commonwealth Games more than SAF Games. I don’t think we have got firepower to take on India at this moment. At the SAF Games we know India will dominate. We will send seven men and five women for the SAF Games this year. But we would look more strongly at 2022 Commonwealth Games,” reiterated Gomes pointing out that historically Sri Lanka’s boxing medals has come in the lighter weights from Light Fly (46-49kgs) and Fly (49-52kgs) weight classes.

    Indeed Sri Lanka’s three bronze medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last year came from Anusha Kodituwakku (Light Fly under 51kgs), Ishan Bandara (Fly under 52kgs) and Thiwanka Ranasinghe (Light Fly under 49kgs).

    Anuruddha Ratnayake, who qualified to represent Sri Lanka at the Olympics after 40 years in 2008, fought in the Fly under 52 kgs weight class at the Beijing Games. The last time Sri Lanka won medals at the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1978 - R.D.W.N. Perera and H.S. Caldera boxed in the Fly (Under 51kgs) and Bantam (Under 54kgs) weight categories respectively. Sri Lanka’s first ever gold at the Asian Boxing Championship back in 1967 came in the Light Fly (Under 48kgs) weight through H.K. Karunaratne who went onto represent Sri Lanka at the Mexico Olympics the following year.

    A former flyweight Junior National champion, Gomes reiterated the need to provide regular international exposure for Sri Lanka’s boxers to keep pace with latest techniques and tactics in the world arena.

    “Now boxers have to be aggressive and fast. Earlier during the era of computer judging after winning two rounds you could duck and dive. Now it is little different and subjective as well. At the same time, style, technique and 60s style of boxing has returned. Speed counts a lot and in three minutes many punches are thrown,” he said.

    “There are about six tournaments which are being planned this year. We are definitely sending two boys to China (Belt and Road tournament), Thailand King’s Cup in July, Indonesia President’s Cup and at the end of the year to Mongolia and Europe,” said Gomes who got elected to the executive committee of the Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) recently.

    To chart the pathway programme for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the BASL is once again looking for a Cuban coach.“It was a great help done in the year 2000 by then Sports Minister (Gamini) Lokuge where we managed to get a Cuban coach. That opened us the doors to train in Cuba and also to get Anuruddha Ratnayake to get qualified for the Olympic Games and be among the best 28 in the world. When he boxed at the Beijing Olympics he was ranked number 5 in the world,” he said.

    In addition Gomes wants to send boxers to train in India. “India has moved so much ahead in this game. In Asian Games they got a couple of medals and have qualified for Olympics. Th

    The National Boxing Selection Committee headed by General Jagath Jayasuriya will having a meeting this week and look at how they are going to pick a development squad with a long-term objective in mind.

    “We want to start looking at two or three boxers as potential medal prospects for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Our main focus is Commonwealth Games more than SAF Games. I don’t think we have got firepower to take on India at this moment. At the SAF Games we know India will dominate. We will send seven men and five women for the SAF Games this year. But we would look more strongly at 2022 Commonwealth Games,” reiterated Gomes pointing out that historically Sri Lanka’s boxing medals has come in the lighter weights from Light Fly (46-49kgs) and Fly (49-52kgs) weight classes.

    Indeed Sri Lanka’s three bronze medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last year came from Anusha Kodituwakku (Light Fly under 51kgs), Ishan Bandara (Fly under 52kgs) and Thiwanka Ranasinghe (Light Fly under 49kgs).

    Anuruddha Ratnayake, who qualified to represent Sri Lanka at the Olympics after 40 years in 2008, fought in the Fly under 52 kgs weight class at the Beijing Games. The last time Sri Lanka won medals at the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1978 - R.D.W.N. Perera and H.S. Caldera boxed in the Fly (Under 51kgs) and Bantam (Under 54kgs) weight categories respectively. Sri Lanka’s first ever gold at the Asian Boxing Championship back in 1967 came in the Light Fly (Under 48kgs) weight through H.K. Karunaratne who went onto represent Sri Lanka at the Mexico Olympics the following year.

    A former flyweight Junior National champion, Gomes reiterated the need to provide regular international exposure for Sri Lanka’s boxers to keep pace with latest techniques and tactics in the world arena.

    “Now boxers have to be aggressive and fast. Earlier during the era of computer judging after winning two rounds you could duck and dive. Now it is little different and subjective as well. At the same time, style, technique and 60s style of boxing has returned. Speed counts a lot and in three minutes many punches are thrown,” he said.

    “There are about six tournaments which are being planned this year. We are definitely sending two boys to China (Belt and Road tournament), Thailand King’s Cup in July, Indonesia President’s Cup and at the end of the year to Mongolia and Europe,” said Gomes who got elected to the executive committee of the Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) recently.

    To chart the pathway programme for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the BASL is once again looking for a Cuban coach.“It was a great help done in the year 2000 by then Sports Minister (Gamini) Lokuge where we managed to get a Cuban coach. That opened us the doors to train in Cuba and also to get Anuruddha Ratnayake to get qualified for the Olympic Games and be among the best 28 in the world. When he boxed at the Beijing Olympics he was ranked number 5 in the world,” he said.

    In addition Gomes wants to send boxers to train in India. “India has moved so much ahead in this game. In Asian Games they got a couple of medals and have qualified for Olympics. Th

    ey are the new super power in boxing who could take on Cubans and Russians. They have leap frogged over the last eight years,” said Gomes pointing out that boxing has also advanced more technologically by leaps and bounds.

    “For example when I studied accounting we were using IBM machines. Today your computer is ipad. It is the same revolution which is happening in boxing today. It is all about tactics, speed, innovation, nutrition, mental agility and strategy. It is no longer a really blood sport. Boxing has taken a complete 360 degree turn. It is again going back to being absolutely physical and more on tactics, speed and people have improved techniques because of science,” he said.

    “Only thing we need to do is concentrate and focus on three weights - Light Fly, Fly and Feather. Beyond that it is much more difficult for us to focus on. One is the talent and human resources such as input of coaching and all that and the other is funding where there is hardly any support from the government for boxing. It is all private funding that makes it much more difficult for us to operate in the international arena. That’s why we have been asking for a Cuban coach again,” said Gomes.

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