Boxing coach with Midas touch turns ITO | Page 3 | Sunday Observer

Boxing coach with Midas touch turns ITO

19 March, 2023
Wasantha Kumara with Olympian Anuruddha Ratnayake (left) and BASL president Dian Gomes (centre)
Wasantha Kumara with Olympian Anuruddha Ratnayake (left) and BASL president Dian Gomes (centre)

Ratnapura is traditionally renowned for gem mining in Sri Lanka. Sivali Central College unearthed a boxing gem in 1995 when a 17-year-old student Wasantha Kumara guided his school to a historic triumph at the T.B. Jayah novices meet.

The youngster who began his boxing career at Joseph Vaz College, Wennappuwa displayed the Midas touch as a coach for several schools in Ratnapura before gaining national recognition after joining MAS Holdings.

The high point in his boxing career was when he trained Anuruddha Ratnayake for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Kumara’s rise from being an ordinary boxer to scale Olympian heights as a coach is a classic tale of achieving the impossible. His perseverance and ambition to succeed in life saw him being armed with a double MBA from the University of Cardiff and University of Colombo to supplement his coaching talent.

Appointed national boxing coach in 2012, he became an international 3-Star coach in 2014. Not satisfied with sitting on his laurels, he took up the challenge of refereeing. Now a successful entrepreneur, the 44-year-old achieved the rare distinction of becoming an ITO (International Technical Official) of the International Boxing Association.

Withanage Wasantha Kumara has come full circle in the sport as a boxer, coach, administrator, referee and now ITO, providing another opportunity for him to climb the ladder. Despite having many detractors, he has carved a niche for himself with his numerous achievements within a short period of time.

Coach of Sivali from 1995 to 2011, he joined MAS as an HR Executive when he was an undergraduate at the University of Colombo handpicked by present national selection committee chairman Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya (rtd) as an outstanding coaching talent. The rest as they say is history as he produced many national level boxers during the period 2003 to 2014 during the golden reign of boxing at MAS.

Executive member of Sri Lanka’s Boxing Association (BASL) from 1998 to 2014, a former secretary of the Sri Lanka Schools Boxing Coaches Association and now a Vice President of the BASL, it was natural that he took the next step in boxing management by becoming an ITO. Having obtained a Sports Diploma from Semelswise University in Hungary and Advanced Sports Management Diploma organized by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), Kumara expressed his gratitude to BASL president Dian Gomes who has been his mentor and father figure.

Wasantha Kumara wears many hats as Managing Director of Dinuda Resort (Pvt) Ltd, Chairperson of Kalpitiya Hotel Association and as Chairperson of Kundasale Sports Club but his heart is in the future of Sri Lanka boxing. “My next project is preparing a young team who will be undergoing training in India for the next Commonwealth Games,” said Kumara, who knows what it takes to produce an Olympian.