ROYAL College has produced a plethora of scientific boxers during the past 95 years. Scientific boxing is synonymous with Royal College due to the foundation laid by the late Donald Obeyesekere (the father of Boxing in Sri Lanka), his son the late Danton Obeyesekere (who coached Royal for 55 years) and Ponnambalam Rajendram who were all Cambridge `Blues’. This Legacy has been carried on by their pupils who have coached their old School teams subsequently.
Among this galaxy of scientific boxers, the name of Lt. General Jagath Jayasuriya, the new Army Commander has a very special place by virtue of the fact that he is one of eleven Royalists who have won the Col. T. Y. Wright Challenge Cup awarded to the Senior Best Boxer at the Stubbs Shield Meets.
He was encouraged to box by his elder brother Sumith who was in the Royal College Boxing team and took to the sport like a duck taking to water in 1973 and represented the College but met with mixed fortunes by being runner up in the under 85 weight class at the Schools Novices meet and Bombay trials Meet. In 1974 he won his weight at the Schools Novices Meet & Stubbs Shield Meet and was Runner up at the ABA Junior Nationals. He had to stay out of the ring in 1975 due to illness but came back strongly in 1976 to win his weight at the Stubbs Shield meet along with his brother, Nimal who was the Captain.
He captained the team in 1977 and with an elegant display of skillful boxing carried away the Senior Best Boxers Trophy at the Stubbs Shield Meet. It was almost after 20 years (after L Ferdinands) that a Royalist won this Trophy and it took another 10 years for another Royalist (H Bandara) to win this Trophy. He was awarded College Boxing Colours in 1974, 1976 and 1977.
The writer, who was the Technical Advisor to the Royal College Boxing team from 1974 to 1994, was in his corner when he won the Best Boxers Trophy and in most of his other fights as well and will bear witness to his excellent ring-craft. Straight clean punching coupled with a solid defence and deft foot work was the hallmark of Jagath’s boxing repertoire.
Royal had many sets of brothers boxing for the School and winning their weights and a very interesting coincidence was that the Jayasuriya Brothers, Sumith (1973), Nimal (1976) and Jagath (1977) all won the Under 125 lbs weight class at the Stubbs Shield Meets. At the Royal College Inter House Boxing Meet in 1974, four Jayasuriya brothers Sumith, Aruna, Nimal and Jagath featured in the finals. His brother–in-law, Cmde (Rtd) G.E.S de Silva captained the Royal College Boxing team in 1966.
After joining the Army Jagath involved himself in Boxing administration. He was a former Secretary of the A.B.A. of Sri Lanka and is presently the Vice President of the A.B.A. He was unable to take on the Presidency due to exigencies of duty in the North. He is also an International (A.I.B.A.) Referee/Judge and officiated in many international tournaments including the World Championships in 2006.
We are certain that Lt. Genral Jagath Jayasuriya will carry out his duties and responsibilities to the hilt as the Army Commander and bring honour to his country just as much as he did for his School in the Boxing Ring. We wish him the best of luck and may the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with him.(courtesy: The Island)