Boxer Sumith Liyanage was the Sports Star of 1960 | Daily News
Sri Lankan Olympic stars of yesteryear :

Boxer Sumith Liyanage was the Sports Star of 1960

Sumith Liyanage
Sumith Liyanage

Boxer Sumith Mohandas Pitigala Liyanage who participated at the Rome Olympics in 1960 had his education at Ananda College and Nalanda College. Both at Ananda and Nalanda, he participated in the Stubbs Shield Boxing Meets and remained unbeaten in the schools boxing ring.

At Ananda, he played for the Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 Cricket Teams while at Nalanda, he played for three years as an opening bowler. During the period from 1955 to 1968 for 12 years he won the National Boxing Championships while knocking out his opponents often in the very first rounds. He won the National Championships in the bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight classes. He was also honoured as the Sports Star of the Year 1960.

His success at National Championships and participating in International events as a schoolboy was a remarkable feature in his sports career.

Having won the National Boxing Championship in 1956, Liyanage participated in the South Asian Boxing events in Rangoon, Burma, in 1957. After participating in the 1960 Olympic Games he was nominated for the Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand in 1962.

He won Gold Medals having participated in International Boxing events held in New Delhi, India and in Karachi, Pakistan in 1963.

Liyanage was selected as Sri Lanka’s number one boxer for the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. To achieve this success, he was coached and guided by C. A. Wickramasinghe and Police Inspector Ekanayake for well over five months.

At the Olympics Liyanage faced his first contender Jerzy Adamski from Poland. In the first round, Adamski was at the receiving end but clung on to a ring post to fightback.

Although Liyanage took the major honours on that occasion, he lost the bout by a narrow margin.

Adamski won the Silver Medal while losing to his Italian opponent in the final by a narrow margin.

Although Liyanage was subject to fierce attacks he never faced defeat on knock-out. After he returned from the Olympic Games, he was defeated by Police Constable Mahagedara at a local meet.

But subsequently he defeated Mahagedara to regain his championship. Having retired from the ring in 1968, Sumith took to shooting and he displayed excellence in this field by recording continuous victories.

He became the most acclaimed marksman in the Sri Lanka Police Service. At the Defence Services Shooting Championships the Sri Lanka Police Team led by Liyanage won the President’s Challenge Cup on several occasions. He was placed eighth at the World Shooting Championships held in Denmark in 1968 while competing in the pistol shooting category.

The placing at the World Championships was a great achievement in his sporting career. (C.D)