Jayasinghe’s passion for boxing turns Kamburupitiya into hub for sport in Southern Province | Daily News

Jayasinghe’s passion for boxing turns Kamburupitiya into hub for sport in Southern Province

T.B. Jayah memorial boxing meet champions Narandeniya National School, Kamburupitiya boxing team with coach Pradeep Jayasinghe.
T.B. Jayah memorial boxing meet champions Narandeniya National School, Kamburupitiya boxing team with coach Pradeep Jayasinghe.

Boxing has been the preserve of Colombo and Kandy schools in Sri Lanka for nearly a century. The emergence of top class pugilists from Seevali MV, Ratnapura, and Vidyarathna Pirivena, Horana changed the landscape of boxing inspiring a new generation of boxers to showcase their skills at national and international level.

It has also taken root in the Southern Province thanks to the pioneering effort, determination and perseverance of Pradeep Jayasinghe who was fascinated by boxing as a youngster when it was first introduced by W.R. Wekadapola, a PTI at Mapalana Junior School in Kamburupitiya in 1998.

“I started boxing and coaching when I moved to study in higher grade at Narandeniya National School. We formed a team. They started winning,” said Jayasinghe and the rest as they say is history.

Within a span of two decades, Jayasinghe’s home town of Kamburupitiya has become the hub of boxing down south with about six schools having taken up boxing. More significantly, Narandeniya NS which Jayasinghe has been coaching since 2000, has won no less than seven National boys and girls championships, the most recent being emerging champions at the T.B. Jayah Novices school boxing tournament this year.

The humble boy from down south wanted to continue boxing after leaving school which brought him to Colombo joined Nugegoda BC coached by U.A.T. Sumanapala. Needing a job for survival, he was recruited by MAS Holdings boxing for Unichella. He also represented Police BC, boxing in the weight categories from 60 to 69kgs at National level before hanging up his gloves in 2012.

As fate would have it, he got an opportunity to return to his roots when he got an appointment as Sports Officer of the Kamburupitiya division of the Southern Province Sports Ministry in 2013 and Southern Province Boxing Co-ordinator the following year. He was also conferred the Samashree Deshamanya title for his services to the sport by Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody at a ceremony organized by the United Organization of All Communities.

“They did not have a boxing meet to select Southern Province representatives to the National Sports Festival until I organized trials in 2014,” said Jayasinghe who recently oversaw the conduct of the Southern Province boxing tournament at Narandeniya NS which has became a major event in the sports calendar.

“At the beginning we had only two pairs of gloves. After I became Sports Officer, with the help of the provincial sports ministry, as boxing developed we got gloves and a ring. Then we needed a place to have the ring so I submitted a project proposal to then Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera when he visited the area and with the help of Southern Province Sports Minister Weerasumana Weerasinghe and other officials such as Manoj Sirisena, Chandana Priyantha and Nilmini Herath we got a dedicated boxing hall at Narandeniya NS,” related Jayasinghe, 33, who formed Kamburupitiya Boxing Club in 2000 but it is yet to register with the parent body of boxing.

“We don’t want to make up the numbers. We want to make our presence felt at the national level and compete with boxers from Army, Navy and Air Force for honours. Our aim is to produce national champions,” said Jayasinghe whose products have already won laurels at the Novices and Intermediates tournaments organized by the Boxing Association of Sri Lanka.

They are women pugilists L.I.N. Malshani (Best Loser at the Novices meet and silver medallist at the Intermediates); W.S. Sewwandi, winner of her weight class at the Intermediates meet; and P.M. Vidanagamage, silver medallist at the Intermediates, to name a few of his outstanding products.

Jayasinghe feels Kamburupitiya, a town 12 miles south of Matara, located in a wet hilly zone, is environmentally idyllic for boxing.

“Kamburupitiya is a village which has characteristics naturally suitable for boxing training. There are beaches and hills which is the ideal blend to make boxers toughen up in a peaceful environment,” said Jayasinghe who is rewriting the history of sport in the country.

 


 

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