Gayani, the boxing pride of the Air Force | Sunday Observer

Gayani, the boxing pride of the Air Force

31 October, 2021

As once stated by Sugar Ray Robinson, predominantly regarded as the greatest boxer of all time, rhythm is everything in boxing and every move that you make starts with your heart and that is in your rhythm too.

Leading Aircraftwoman Gayani Nisansala Kaluarachchi, 29 of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) came into the limelight becoming the first Sri Lankan female pugilist to win a bronze medal at the 58th world military championship. The championship was held at the Patriot Exhibition and Convention Centre in Moscow, Russia from September 19-26, 2021.

Gayani’s outstanding skill in pugilismo decorated herself with the bronze medal in the women’s 75kg weight category where she got the rare privilege of rewriting the history of the Sri Lankan boxing arena. It was reported that 231 competitors, representing 32 countries took part in the championship which offered ten and five weight categories for both men and women respectively.

The Sri Lankan delegation comprised 23 members, all representing the Sri Lanka Army, Navy and the Air Force. The SLAF team consisted of four female pugilists, Leading Aircraftwomen, Gayani Kaluarachchi, Kashmi Thiwanka, Chamodhi Pasyala and Sanjeewani Cooray with Squadron Leader Prasad Wijesinghe and Leading Aircraftman Danushka Ariyarathna joining in the tour. Squadron Leader Wijesinghe is an international boxing referee while Ariyarathna is a boxing coach of the SLAF.


Speaking to the ‘Youth Observer’, the jubilant bronze medalist Gayani recollected her solid and crystal memories of this rather remarkable event where she brought pride and glory to the island. Gayani, despite already being in the limelight, maintains an unassuming humble stance on her celebrated bronze medal. She noted that compared with the other available sports, boxing is played by relatively a handful of women, since of late there has been a growing interest in boxing among women as a form of an exhilarating and Spectacular sport which is truly delightful and good spirited.

Indulging herself in a lingering and sentimental nostalgia, Gayani said, “I was born and bred in the serene landscape of Nawalapitiya which is full of picturesque surroundings. Though, currently, I am away from my ancestral home, still in my imaginations, I fall in love with the morning mist, strange pillared and cake shaped rocks and solitary waterfalls there.”

Her parents are K. A. Sumathipala Bandara and R. G. Chandralatha and she has two younger siblings; both working in the army. She added a sensitive and appreciative mention of her husband M. T. Tharaka Sadaruwan who is attached to the Special Task Force (STF), for facilitating the freedom and the mental solace needed.

While being an award winning and celebrated boxer, Gayani never fails in fulfilling her duties as a mother of two little daughters; Telani, 5 and Tehansi, 2. Recalling her school time memories she said, “I studied right throughout at Sri Buddharaja Maha Vidyalaya, Nawathispanaya. I took part in running events at school and you won’t believe that I didn’t have at least just a little bit of an idea or knowledge about boxing. I prefer keeping my participation in the school running events at bay”.

Turning point

She noted that her far-sighted decision to join the Air Force was the turning point in her life of which she is immensely proud. Joining the SLAF in August, 2012, as she pointed out is one of the most crucial and remarkable decisions that she has ever taken in her life which eventually brought her an abundance of unexpected but marvelous opportunities through which she showed her potential in her selected sport.

Gayani said, “I joined the Air Force boxing pool in January, 2013 from where I started my odyssey of boxing which started to blossom right throughout. I know for fact that the Air Force which is my cradle of boxing offers greener pastures for the amateur boxers”.

Following her joining the Air Force boxing pool, while being trained, Gayani was selected to take part in the novices boxing meet that was held from April, 24-28, 2013 where she won the gold medal in the 57kg weight category.

Gayani revisited her memory of the other boxing competitions that she took part in, among which as she pointed out the defence services game, Layton Cup boxing championship and the national boxing championship are some of the most notable.

She said that she bagged gold medals in the defence services games and the national boxing championship where in the former she competed under the weight category of 75kg and in the latter dealt in the 81+kg weight category (super heavyweight category). She decorated herself with the Silver medal in the weight category of 75 kg at the Layton cup boxing championship.


Gayani, currently based at the Air Force Base Katunayake, remarked that boxing entails physical training and mental preparation. It is popularly declared that boxing is a chess game. A contender should necessarily be skilled enough while possessing a considerable degree of professional training which can convince how many different ways that one is able to counterattack in any situation, at any moment.

Commenting on the training given to all the boxers in the Air Force boxing pool, Gayani noted that the Air Force boxers get a training which is in line with the most sophisticated and standard training, given to the cream of the most outstanding boxers in the world.

Gayani expressed her deep and sincere indebtedness to Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, the Commander of the Air Force for the tremendous motivation and overwhelming support, given right throughout. Meanwhile, she acknowledged her downright gratitude for Group Captain Indika Wickramasinghe, Chairman, SLAF Boxing Pool, Wing Commander Viraj Gamage, Secretary, SLAF, boxing pool, Wing Commander Eranda Geeganage, Secretary, Air Force Sports Council, Wing Commander Mahesh Kothalawa and Squadron Leader Prasad Wijesinghe, Assistant Secretaries, SLAF boxing pool.

Gayani also made a mention with a true sense of appreciation of all the coaches including the head coach Leading Aircraftman Danushka Ariyarathna for their dedicated commitment in this endeavour.