The Lion’s Cup is a new international tournament in the boxing calendar which was organised by the Sri Lankan Amateur Boxing Association in the city of Colombo. The host nation of this newly-created event claimed five gold medals in the front of the passionate home crowd of the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium.

Athlete of the tournament
Sri Lanka’s Beijing 2008 Olympian Anuruddha Bandara Rathnayake who lives in the middle of the island in the city of Kandy returned to the world of boxing with a view to competing in the upcoming Commonwealth Games. The 39-year-old Flyweight (52 kg) boxer used the Lion’s Cup as a test ahead of his key objective of the year, in order to gauge his current level of performance in the middle of his preparation. Rathnayake advanced to the final and made full use of his wealth of experience to beat 20-year-old Ian Clark Bautista, Philippines’ ASBC Asian Youth Continental Champion, and obtain a deserved gold medal in a bout which could have been described as “the battle of two generations”.

Team of the tournament
The host nation claimed five gold medals in this first edition of the Lion’s Cup. Sri Lanka’s top Light Flyweight (49 kg) boxer Muthukurage Mahesh Prabashwara defeated his main rival Malaysia’s Agong Cup winner Mohamed Fuad Bin Mohamed Redzuan in the semi-final and it was thus no surprise to see him win the gold medal in the final. Dinidu Saparamadu (60 kg), and Mohamed Yunus Dilshan (64kg) also claimed gold, alongside veteran Rathnayake.

Surprise of the tournament
Sri Lanka’s top female boxer Anusha Kodituwakku won several boxing competitions during her career and proved her excellent footwork on home soil. The 35-year-old Flyweight (51 kg) star defeated Chinese Taipei’s AIBA Youth World Champion Lin Yu Ting in the semi-final and continued her winning path against another strong Asian athlete, Thailand’s Southeast Asian Games winner Sopida Satumrum.

Boxers of the future
Philippines’ rising hope Mario Fernandez was gold medallist at the 2012 Taipei City Cup and competed in various international tournaments since the London 2012 Olympics. The 21-year-old Filipino Bantamweight (56 kg) boxer almost defeated Kazakhstan’s AIBA World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Kairat Yeraliyev in the ASBC Asian Continental Championships in Amman last July. He had three strong rivals in the Lion’s Cup but his talent proved to be developed enough to beat a tough trio composed of Kenya’s Commonwealth Games silver medallist Benson Gicharu, Sri Lanka’s Commonwealth Games winner Manju Dinesh Kumar Wanniarachchi and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu Che.

Returning boxer of the tournament
Sri Lanka’s Manju Dinesh Kumar Wanniarachchi had claimed the gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, Sri Lanka’s biggest boxing success in the last decade. The Bantamweight (56 kg) boxer had decided to return to the world of sport following a three-and-a-half-year break. Despite his tremendous experience, the veteran boxer was defeated by Philippines’ Mario Fernandez in the semi-final, and nevertheless claimed a bronze medal for his first tournament after such a long break.

Facts of the tournament
For the great pleasure of the organisers, four AIBA Confederations had sent boxers to the Lion’s Cup, with AMBC the only entity not entering participants in the competition. Alongside the Asian nations, Europe was represented by Belgium, Kenya were the African contenders while Oceania was present with the Australian team.
Quote of the tournament
“The feeling to win the Lion’s Cup in my home country is great and I am really satisfied with my performance. I felt during the whole competition that I am not yet that old and that my coming-back was a good decision. I am happy that I could fight with young boys. My Filipino opponent in the final was a really good boxer and he will still have plenty of time to get gold medals in international competitions. I will try to do my best in the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Scotland and I hope I can finish my career with a medal,” said veteran Anuruddha Bandara Rathnayake after his gold medal in the Lion’s Cup.