Loner Sajeewa to fight for pride at world boxing in Serbia | Sunday Observer

Loner Sajeewa to fight for pride at world boxing in Serbia

17 October, 2021
Sajeewa Nuwan. Bursting with confidence
Sajeewa Nuwan. Bursting with confidence

Sri Lanka’s lone representative at the World Boxing Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, Army pugilist Sajeewa Nuwan Kumara is determined to fight for a medal.

The 29-year-old lance corporal in the Armoured Corps is armed with a new-found self-belief after his bronze medal winning performance at the World Military Boxing Championship in Russia last month.

Having emerged as Sri Lanka’s best light fly weight (49kg) boxer since 2018, Sajeewa Nuwan is buoyed by his maiden success at international level after tweaking his technique. He defeated a tough southpaw from Mozambique in the quarter-finals before losing narrowly on points to a fighter from Brazil in the semi-finals.

“I thought I won this contest as well,” said Sajeewa who was given the nod by one of the judges. “I have been training hard and will do my best to go for a medal at the World Championship and bring glory to Sri Lanka.”

A record number of 650 boxers from 105 countries have registered to take part in the XXI AIBA Men’s World Boxing Championships to be held from October 24 to November 6.

Sajeewa was the only boxer deemed suitable by the national selectors to represent the country at the world meet when the Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) conducted a selection trial meet although another Army pugilist Piyal Dharmasena scored an upset win over national fly weight (52kg) champion and a member of the High-Performance pool Lasindu Eranda.

Surprisingly, Sri Lanka’s leading boxer Sajeewa Nuwan who carried away the Best Boxer awards at the Layton Cup, Clifford Cup and National Championships, is not in the BASL’s six-member High-Performance squad.

BASL secretary Abdullah Ibunu who will accompany Sajeewa as manager cum assistant coach to Serbia, said this anomaly would be addressed shortly.

“The aim of the BASL president and the executive committee is to give as much international exposure as possible to our elite boxers because our target is to win medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games,” said Ibunu, a former Sri Lanka youth international medallist who enjoyed success as Royal College boxing coach.

Sri Lanka’s head coach for the world championship Sampath Jayathilake said Sajeewa Nuwan has made tremendous strides and emerged as the country’s best medal prospect for next year’s Commonwealth Games. “Our ultimate objective is to see him qualify for the 2024 Olympics,” said the 47-year-old Army coach since 2013.

“He has improved a lot during the past two years. It has given us the belief that we can fight for glory in any international tournament. He lost by a small margin of points against the Brazilian in the World Military Boxing Championships.

“I am confident he will give a good show at the World Championships. Earlier, we used to go with the intention of only participating. Now we are competing with the aim of fighting for medals,” said the five-time former national champion.