Boxer Hema Jayasuriya represented Sri Lanka at two Olympics | Daily News
Sri Lankan Olympic stars of yesteryear

Boxer Hema Jayasuriya represented Sri Lanka at two Olympics

Hema Jayasuriya
Hema Jayasuriya

Hema Perera Jayasuriya, had the rare opportunity of representing Sri Lanka at the Olympic Games on two occasions after having launched his boxing career at Ananda College, Colombo.

Jayasuriya was born on April 12, 1930 in Borella and took to boxing after witnessing the Stubbs Shield Meet in 1945.

He won his weight at the College Inter-House Boxing Meet and went on to represent the country at the Olympics through some real hard work and determination.

In 1947, he won the heavyweight class in the Stubbs Shield Meet and in 1949 he won the Clifford Cup and the Layton Cup in the bantamweight.

In 1950, he also won the Sergeant Jayawardene Challenge Cup awarded to the Most Scientific Boxer.

At the selections for the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, he fought one of Sri Lanka's experienced effective boxers in Albert Parera and after a close battle he won the contest.

However, during the Helsinki Olympics, Jayasuriya fell ill on the day before the Games started and had to be admitted to the Olympics Village Hospital.

Later, he led the Sri Lanka Police at the Armed Services Boxing Meet held in Burma and won all three events, which was a huge achievement in his career.

In 1954, at the Second Asian Games held in the Philippines, he won a Silver Medal for his performances in the bantamweight class.

This was the first time Sri Lanka had won a medal at an Asian Boxing Meet. In 1955, at the South Asian Boxing Meet held in Singapore, Jayasuriya won a Gold Medal and he led the Sri Lanka Team at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956.

However, his attempt to change his class resulted in him being disqualified from the event.

In 1957, he participated at the Asian Boxing Meet and won a Gold Medal. On his return to Sri Lanka he retired from boxing in 1958.

This boxer, who had his training from the pin weight boxing champion D. C. A. Wickramasinghe, rose to the height of his career in boxing revealing a story of determination and courage.

Jayasuriya who served in the Railway Department and in the Education Department during the period of 1948 to 1951 joined the Police in 1951 as a Sub-Inspector.

He retired from service in 1987 as a Chief Inspector of Police. He was later attached to the Police Office in Nugegoda as the Personal Assistant to the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), as a Reservist Chief Inspector of Police until his untimely death on July 18, 1990. (C.D)