Saturday, February 15, 2014 (All day)

First Lankan Kodokan Judo black belt holder - Lincoln Wijeyesinghe

Lincoln Wijeyesinghe

In commemoration of his fifth death anniversary fell on February 12, 2014, below is a concise summary of a great son of our motherland, late Lincoln Wijeyesinghe, the first Ceylon Judoka to get training and achieve a black belt in Kodokan Judo institute, Japan and who did tremendous service to the development of Judo sport in Sri Lanka with enormous passion.

During his school days at St.Peters College Bambalapitiya, Lincoln's interests were in to swimming, boxing, soccer, rugby and scouting. While enjoying and excelling in sports, he scored high marks in his school exams due to his avid reading habit. After completing studies at St Peters College, he commenced studying for his Civil Engineering exams and started acquiring required practical experience in government sector PWC (Public Works Department).

During same time he commenced practicing his new sport Judo in central YMCA, Fort in latter part of 1940's and he was trained under 10 Japanese Judo Senseis for over a period of 11 years. However his hunger for advanced training and knowledge in Judo was never ending. To get first hand training, knowledge and exposure he decided to go to Japan in latter part of 1965 at his own expense and master advanced skills of Judo at Kodokan institute in Japan, which is the worlds head quarters for Judo. Judo was originated by late Dr.Jigoro Kano, who was the founder of Kodokan Judo Training & Research Institute in Japan.

As per Lincoln's old Judo records and archives, there he went through extensive and rigorous training under late sensei Kotani-9th Dan, who was a star pupil of late Dr.Jigoro Kano and was also trained under sensei Saito Sar-9th Dan. Training was four hours a day and every day for six months. Kodokan high ranking Judo masters were not happy until pupils practiced each movement 3000 times minimum, to perfect each movement such as grabbing, holding, locking, throwing and falling. After completing rigorous full time training in Kodokan for six months, he had the honor of bringing the first Judo black belt to Sri Lanka from Kodokan institute Japan. Also he brought fist hand knowledge, experience and skills to upgrade our Ceylonese Judokas' knowledge and standards.

Lincoln Wijeyesinghe with his Sensei in

After returning to Ceylon, he served as the National coach for Judo in Ceylon from 1966 to 1975 and then as the secretary from 1966 to 1972. He succeeded as the president of Sri Lanka Judo Association in 1972, after late Doctor.P.E.P. Deraniyagala (Director national museum Ceylon, paleontologist & zoologist) decided to retire. Lincoln served as the president passionately contributing to the sport till he decided to retire in 1976 and handed over presidency to Justice G.L.M. De Silva. During his regime he invited Japanese Judo coaches like Sensie Yodha, Kanamaru, Takada to train and coach Judo pupils here.

For the first time, systematic Judo training programs were held and regular Judo grading sessions commenced under his supervision. He started visiting, training and coaching in many outstation locations in Sri Lanka at his own expense to promote the sport, including Police Training School at Kalutara, Teacher Training School - Maharagama, YMBA - Dehiwela, YMCA's and YMBA's in Ceylon to name few.

In 1970 he invited the then Inspector General of Police to witness a special demonstration by a Japanese police Judo coach Sensei Yodha, techniques useful for the Police force and this demonstration resulted in the introduction of Judo to the Police department of Ceylon. During his regime Lincoln arranged the first Japanese Ambassadors Trophy Judo meet.. By 1977 he was a well seasoned and matured Judo coach and a highly skilled Judoka. As a result the 2nd Dan grade was awarded to him by the Kodokan Japan for the first time for a Sri Lankan.

This was mainly due to his enhanced Judo skills that was on peak and extraordinary commitment and genuine desire for the development of sport Judo in Sri Lanka.

Until his demise in 2009, Lincoln didn't miss any of the Japanese Ambassadors trophy Judo tournaments held in Sri Lanka annually, for which he was invited by Judo Association officials. Due to his dedication and service to Judo, "Lincoln Wijeyesinghe Memorial Challenge Trophy" was introduced by the present Judo Association. In recognition of his yeoman service to the sport, his photograph has been placed next to late Dr.P.E.P. Deraniyagala's photograph at the Sri Lanka Judo Association Dojo along with rest of past presidents.

By profession Lincoln was a Civil Engineer in the Government service at the Department of Buildings and Civil Aviation. Later part of his career, he was working as the District Engineer at Ratnapura and then at Kalutara district. After retirement he designed and invented a manual cinnamon peeling machine which he won the presidential award in year 2002 under inventions category and obtained patent rights for same. Also due to his dedicated contribution and services rendered to the Lions Club, he was awarded with Melvin John's Fellowship (MJF) International Award by International Lions Club.

Coming from a influential and respectable strong Buddhist family with five elder brothers and two elder sisters who excelled in varied sports disciplines, some of his elder brothers, late Hector, Solomen and Kamal have established Ceylon and Indo-Ceylon records in bodybuilding, weight lifting and swimming in 1940's to 1950's. Lincoln passed away on February 12, 2009, at the age of 78 in his Dehiwela, Hill Street home, leaving his wife Saroja, two sons Subodha and Jayendra. His legacy will continue as a great son of mother Lanka for so long.


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