Thursday, June 13, 2024

Boxing boss Dian Gomes throws his last punch

by malinga
May 19, 2024 1:09 am 0 comment 1.5K views

Dian Gomes/Anusha Kodituwakku

On Tuesday May 21, a legacy and vision that he leaves behind is likely to pose new challenges to his successors in a way that no other has inherited in an arena where disputes and question marks keep lingering:

No other boxing promoter has been as important as well as controversial as Dian Gomes who will be calling it a day and retirement from active participation in boxing management and administration in Sri Lanka.

Opinion at times was divided when it came to Gomes if one were to weigh the pros and cons associated with sports promotion, but with more tilting in his favour. He was a name synonymous with Sri Lanka boxing for more than two decades and his supporters say his visionary ideas and influence went far beyond the ring.

His vision was far-reaching and his can-do attitude infectious, inspiring not only hundreds of pugilists who owe their success to him, but Corporate entities that came to share his passion and understand the need to invest in the sport.

It was his ability to secure corporate sponsorships and private funding that provided boxers with the financial resources they needed to travel and excel on the international stage. His decision to bring boxing within corporate offices and make it part of the culture created healthy competition, fostering better working relationships and lifting the standards of the sport generally. Boxers who came under his care will contend that Gomes brought new people to the sport and made it mainstream in a way it had not been done before.

Gomes came into boxing administration in 2002 and with him came what became a turn-around for Sri Lanka boxing that also interested the media which until then played a limited part in the promotion of boxing. But there are others who will say Gomes also made headlines for the wrong reasons and it may not have mattered as he took the lead role in deciding the destiny of boxing in a way his predecessors did not.

His recent tenure as president of the Boxing Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has been defined by a series of remarkable achievements, leadership qualities and a profound commitment to the betterment of the sport.

He saw the potential for the sport to not only produce international-class athletes but also to empower communities and drive positive social change. With this vision as his guiding light, Gomes set out to revolutionise the landscape of boxing in Sri Lanka.

A natural leader, he was never afraid to make hard decisions or do things differently and that resulted in a significant increase in medal tallies at global events such as the Commonwealth Games with talent development and strategic investments in coaching and infrastructure taking centre stage.

Gomes’ appointment as a director of the International Boxing Association (IBA) and his representation on prestigious global bodies like the Commonwealth Advisory Board of Sports and the Executive Committee of the Asian Boxing Federation underscored his stature as a respected figure in the international boxing community.

“I will continue to support Sri Lanka boxing in my capacity as IBA Director for the next two years,” said Gomes, 66, who wants to ensure a smooth transition in leadership when the BASL Annual General Meeting and election is held on May 21.

Insiders say Gomes took a stance against corruption and unethical practices within the sport, earning praise for his efforts to clean up certain associations affiliated with boxing and his commitment to transparency and integrity has been instrumental in fostering trust within the boxing community.

His quest to empower women, persons with disabilities and disadvantaged communities, drove him to make some difficult decisions, even in the face of opposition or controversy.

“He listens attentively, seeks to understand different perspectives and strives to create an inclusive and supportive environment for everyone”, said a former boxing official who worked with Gomes.

Outside boxing, Gomes’ accomplishments in the corporate world have been outstanding, but he nonetheless remains a humble and modest man while attributing his success not to personal accomplishments but to the collective efforts of a dedicated team.

He was quick to acknowledge the contributions of others and is always willing to learn and grow as a leader and believes that true success lies in empowering others to reach their full potential.

He moves out having dedicated himself to grooming the next generation of boxing talent in Sri Lanka, providing them with the mentorship, support and financial resources they need to succeed.

Close aides of Gomes contend that through various initiatives he empowered young people from all walks of life to pursue their passions, overcome obstacles and achieve success.

In the apparel industry he is said to have been instrumental in empowering the largely female workforces, creating attitudinal change for those who power the industry through a rights-based approach.

Taking the bold step of promoting women’s boxing in Sri Lanka, amid controversy Gomes opened up new opportunities for women like his protégé Anusha Kodituwakku, the first ever medal winner in women’s boxing at the Commonwealth Games.

His departure as president of the Boxing Association of Sri Lanka undoubtedly marks the end of an era in Sri Lankan boxing. Gomes’ influence as a visionary leader and mentor, often referred to as the ‘godfather’ of boxing in the country, cannot be overstated.

His impact on the sport has been profound, shaping not only the development of athletes but also the culture and governance of boxing in Sri Lanka according to his close aides.

While Gomes’ departure could bring challenges, it also presents opportunities for renewal and growth within the sport. His legacy of empowerment and social change has laid a strong foundation upon which future leaders can build.

The principles of transparency, integrity and excellence that he championed can continue to serve as guiding principles for the boxing community in Sri Lanka.

Gomes’ achievements are etched in the history books of boxing and beyond but for him it is the impact on people that matters most. He has shown that with vision, passion, and commitment to a goal, it is possible to change the face of sports and make a lasting impact on society.

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