How a prank turned me into a boxer - Srilal Gomes | Daily News

How a prank turned me into a boxer - Srilal Gomes

Former old boy of Christ Church College and a boxer of Dehiwala Maha Vidyalaya, St. Mary’s Boxing Club Dehiwala, Sri Lanka Air Force, Defense Services and Sri Lanka, Srilal Gomes spoke to the Daily News at his residence at 39/2/A, Dharmalankara Mawatha, Hill Street, Dehiwala.

Q - Can you tell something in brief about you and your family?

A - My full name is Dimungo Gomesge Srilal Gomes and my father is Dimungo Gomesge Jinadasa and he was in the Postal Department. My mother is Kamkanampathirage Violet Perera and she is a housewife. I am the eldest in our family and I have one brother and three younger sisters. My youngest sister is Sagarika Gomes who was killed during the 1989 disturbances. My wife is Chandrika Gomes and we are blessed with a son and a daughter and we hail from Dehiwala.

Q - What is your first school?

A - I had my preliminary education from 1962 to 1966 at Christ Church College and my grade one teacher was Mrs. Irangani Perera and I shifted to Dehiwala Maha Vidyalaya in 1967 and left in 1974.

Q - Did you take part in sports whilst at school?

A - I played soccer, rugger and did athletics and senior cadeting but my pet game was rugger.

Q - How did you commence boxing?

A - During my time there was no boxing at Dehiwala MV. Our school was a mixed school and during the intervals girls used to play netball. One day there was a tyre near our class room and my friends and I took it and went up to the second floor and I threw the tyre at the girls. Unfortunately it went and struck the main electrical wires and it started burning right round the school premises. Then our peon Kamel caught me and took me to the Principal Srinath Kalinga Gunawardene. He immediately summoned the Electrical Department and they came and put off the fire. Then the Principal gave me four cuts and asked me to kneel down in front of his office until the school was over and to come with my parents the following day. I came with my mother and my mother said I was innocent. Then the Principal gave me a pair of boxing gloves and asked me to get hold of my friends and start boxing. Later I came to know that he was the famous Principal who was at St. Michael’s College, Polwatte.

Q - Then what happened?

A - I got hold of two of my class mates Wasantha Perera and Premal Perera. Premal is presently a Judge by profession and also a Judge and a Referee in Boxing. The three of us participated at the Stubbs Shield and I beat Wasantha Randeniya of St. Mary’s and Samsudeen of Zahira College and finally Royalist Wanigasekera. I was adjudged as the best boxer. Our coaches at school were Labrooy of the Police and Marzook of St. Michael’s College. At this meet Ranjith Perera of Air Force and Weerakkody of Army helped our boxers. We did well in the first year itself. That’s how boxing commenced at Dehiwala MMV. End of the year I joined Technical College, Maradana to follow a course in General Engineering. I joined St. Mary’s Boxing Club to pursue my boxing career.

Q - Did you represent your club at boxing?

A - I represented in the Layton Cup and finally lost to Weerasinghe of Army. I was the Best Loser. At St. Mary’s Bandula Ratnapala of Navy too helped me. Now he is domiciled in America and Prizley Jacobs taught me the techniques of the game. He too is domiciled in Canada. The three service commanders were invited for this meet and after the meet three of them invited me to join to their respective services. But I opted to join the Air Force and AVM Harry Gunathilake took me to the Air Force in 1976.

Q - Did you take part for the Air Force?

A - After my combat and military training and trade training I commenced boxing in 1978. I boxed up to 1983 and I was the Best Boxer in the Layton Cup, Clifford Cup, Nationals, Inter Services and Defence Services. Continuously for several years I was the champion. In 1981 I was awarded the most prestigious Vartharasa Trophy awarded to the most outstanding Air Force sportsman at the annual Colours Night. I was awarded Air Force Colours and Defense Services Colours.

Q - Did you represent Sri Lanka in boxing?

A - It was against Pakistan, Nepal, India and Bangladesh and I toured India twice with the Sri Lanka contingent. Later I won two trials and fell sick at the final trial for the 1982 Olympics. In addition I followed boxing training course at Netaji Subash National Institute of Sports Palick, Punjab.

Q - Did you coach in boxing?

A - I trained the Air Force boxers from 1983 to 1985. They performed well at the inter services, defense services and all other meets and in 1996 and 1997 I coached them and they did well.

I retired from the Air Force in 1997 and after that I qualified as a Referee and Judge. I did coaching for the Boxing Association.

Q - Presently are you employed?

A - I joined the Commercial Bank as a Gymnasium Physical Training Instructor training of Executive Officers. Recently Air Commodore Weerakoon invited me to coach the Air Force Boxers with the blessings of Air Force Commander AVM Kapila Jayampathi and I took over.

During this short period they participated in the Clifford Cup and the Nationals and performed well. M. D. M. Dilshan toured New Zealand with the Sri Lanka boxing team.

It should be mentioned that the present commander extended his fullest support to me. In addition former Air Commodore G. M. U. de Silva and commanders Harry Gunathilake, Walter Fernando, Dick Perera, Terrance Gunawardene, Dr. Amunugama, Dayawansa and many others helped me in numerous ways to come up the ladder.

Q - Did you do any other sports in the Air Force?

A - I played for the rugger team and for the seven a side team. In addition I played soccer and did wrestling and athletics at the Inter Unit level. Presently I am a Sri Lanka Boxing Association Referee and Judge.

Q - Finally, what is the advice you can give to young boxers?

A - Boxing is a sport with technique and in one way its fighting to show your talent. You must have the patience and to improve you must be dedicated and devoted to the sport and must be fit and need strength also.

Note: Srilal can be contacted on 0764147716 or 0714483953

(The writer is a former Air Force Warrant Officer)



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