Developing boxing nation Sri Lanka has now got more than 1100 registered elite boxers competing at present and the Sri Lankan Boxing Federation is working hard to uncover the next gem that can emulate the success of Anuruddha Bandara Rathnayake who qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and is now working as national coach. The Clifford Cup is the country's signature event and always produces some scintillating fights.
Sri Lanka competed at both the last AIBA World Boxing Championships and AIBA Youth World Championships and are hoping that a new golden generation is about to blossom under their strategic development plans. The Sri Lankan Boxing Federation has been working extremely hard and will now be sending three boxers to the upcoming AIBA Youth World Championships in Yerevan, Armenia, with plans to have their athletes competing at every continental event in 2013.
The 86th edition of the Clifford Cup took place at the Sugathadasa National Indoor Stadium in the capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo, over the weekend and the action was top-drawer. The competition united booth elite level boxers and novices in various draws as the country builds towards the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
140 men and 40 women took part in order to make their mark in the hope of selection to the national squad which will be taking part in the upcoming regional international event, the South Asian Games in New Delhi, India next year.
It came as no big surprise that Sri Lanka's best local clubs, Slimline Boxing Club A team and MAS Southern A squad topped the Clifford Cup team rankings in the men's and women's draws.
22-year-old National defending Champion Mohamad Younuf Dilshan of the Sri Lanka Air Force Boxing Club was named the best boxer at the event following his great victory over 24-year-old Arachchilage Samith Heelbathdeniya. Dilshan knocked his experienced rival down to claim the Light Welterweight (64kg) gold medal.
Slimline's 18-year-old M.R. Sadaruwan, who was silver medallist at the National Youth Championships in January, developed well enough in recent months and showed great footwork to dominate his final against P.G.E. Madushan and claim the top prize.
Sri Lanka's best boxer at international level, Dilanka Suresh Pattiarachchi, who claimed a bronze medal at the 2010 World Military Championships and competed in various international events in the recent years, was another to take a title. The 166cm tall athlete wants to reach the top level in the Asian continent and his first step was the gold medal in the Clifford Cup where he overwhelmed A.C. Chandrasiri at the flyweight final.
Sri Lankan National Champion and Layton Cup winner 26-year-old Anurudha Bandara Gunathilake proved that he is the best at the lightweight division where he triumphed over M.P.S. Karunarathne of Sri Lanka Police by 19:8. Slimline's Commonwealth Games competitor 25-year-old Suranga Mudannayake moved up two weight classes in the last one year and had a great winning battle against relatively unknown A.D.P. Indika at the final of the light heavyweight class.
In the women part of the Clifford Cup Niranjala Senanayake won the best female fighter trophy at the Olympic lightweight class where she was too strong for L. Udayangani. Sri Lanka's best female fighter AIBA Women's World Championships quarter-finalist Anusha Kodituwakku's career is near to its end due the age limit but she proved once again that she is too strong for the local opponents.
National women team boxers as bantamweight's Viushika Prabadi and featherweight's Borala Liyanage Sandareka also won their weight classes in the Clifford Cup. Both defended their previous thrones in the event while Asian Women's Championships bronze medallist Dapana Durage Weerarathna also claimed the gold medal in the competition.
The future sure looks bright for boxing in Sri Lanka
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