By Sharm de Alwis
Boxing at Trinity was an ‘on, off’ sport. Even then and despite several stoppages, when the sport was revived in the ’80s, Trinity remained the over-all winners of the Stubbs Shield. They continued to spread their wings when in school and won their weights several times at the T.B. Jayah and L.V. Jayaweera Meets.
Boxing was introduced at Trinity in 1907 for small boys and became a serious school sport in 1913 for all boys who were physically fit. Mr. Mulgrue of the staff was the first coach and he was assisted by Sergeants-Major Jobson and Rignall of the army regiment stationed in Kandy.
An inter-house meet was held in the very first year and Trinity won the Stubbs Shield in the inaugural meet of 1914. Trinity’s ascendancy was maintained in 1915, ‘17, ‘18, ‘21, ‘22, ‘23, ‘26, ‘49, ‘50 and ‘51.
Although no proper records had been maintained over the years, the reign of captaincy has been fairly well documented:
1915 M.P. Kallora – Lion same year
1916 F.R. Sirimanne ] -
1917 F.R. Sirimanne ] -
1918 F.R. Sirimanne ] - Lion in 1918
1919 H. Ellis
1920 H. Ellis
1921 Roy Wells
1922 H.R.V. Johnson
1923 E. Aluvihare
1924 E. Aluvihare
1925 M. Than On
1926 W. Wijesundere
1932 Sydney Ratwatte – Lion in 1927: Best Boxer at the Junior weights at Stubbs
1933 L. de Silva – Lion in 1933
1935 Henry Young – Lion in 1935
1936 M.S. Daniel ] – Lion in 1936
1937 M.S. Daniel ]
1939 L.D. Perera [later to be known as Leslie Handunge]
1940 R. Murugiah
1941 R. Murugiah
1942 E.C. Godlieb – Lion in 1943
1943 George de Bruin
1944 Michael Kagwa
1945 Michael Kagwa
1946 Tony Mahat
1947 Tony Mahat
1948 D.L.Y. Pakstun - Lion in 1948
1949 D.L.Y. Pakstun
1950 Ryan Tucker
1951 L.K.L. de Silva - Lion in 1950
1952 L.K.L. de Silva
1953 Mahinda Ratwatte
1954 Herman Scharenguivel
1955 Lakdasa Moonemalle
1956 Sena de Sylva
1957 Malcolm Dias
1958 Sarath Jayasinghe
1959 Sarath Jayasinghe
1960 Tony de Sylva
Other Lions have been George Wells, Rajah Sumanasekera, Ikram Odayar, Udeni Kiridena and Sajith Egodage. Special mention should be made of other exemplary pugilists: O.L.Z. Abdeen, Jim David, Oscar Rajasooriya, Reggie Roberts, Michael Schokman, Mervyn Panditaratne, Rajah Williams and his elder brother Lew, Riza Odayar and M. Kiridena.
Even though Trinity boxers fared exceptionally well in all meets in which they participated, the sport continued to receive the treatment accorded to Cinderella. Next to Ryal, P.E.P. Deraniyagala, Danton and Alex Obeysekera, Eddie Grey and, more recently, Dion Gomez have contributed enormously to the country’s boxing, it is Trinity that has helped to keep the flag flying.
Leslie Handunge has been, arguably, the finest boxer, pound for pound through the ages. He represented the country at the London Olympics of 1948 under the captaincy of Duncan White and he captained the Olympic contingent of 1952. The law examinations got in the way of Trinity notching a hat trick because Lakshman Kadirgamar was to have captained the 1956 Olympic team.
Apart from Leslie Handunge, who coached boxers at the Peradeniya University, YMCA and Trinity, Henry Young also did much to nurture the sport by coaching promising pugilists at his Straight Left Boxing Club. Bunny Joseph and Eranie Boustead have been two superlative products of Henry Young who had won his Trinity Boxing Lion in 1935 before decamping to join St. Peter’s. As the full-back of the SPC team, he arrived at Bogambara for the game against Trinity, clad in his Trinity blazer, complete with the Boxing Lion.
Lakdasa Moonemalle was ‘pipped in the pocket’ for his boxing lion even though he won the best boxer’s cup at the Stubbs. In an earlier year, his elder brother Kingsley had won the best boxer’s cup at the junior weights of the Stubbs and I’ll wage whatever money I am left with, that Kingsley Moonemalle was the daintiest boxer ever to step into the ring — he had footwork, style and skill in gay abundance.
The finest bout I have seen, over and above Jimmy Carter/Vic Toweel in London, was in a house-meet when D.L.Y. Pakstun conceded weight, height and age to Michael Schokman, for us to be enthralled for four rounds in a worthily declared ‘draw’. That was way back in 1947.
From the records available, Trinity has had ten 1sts, six 2nds, three 3rds and three 4ths at the Stubbs up to 1953. After Mr. Mulgrue, Messrs J.V.A. Goonetileke, A.C.B. Marks, David Paynter, Bobby Jayaweera and S.D. Elhart have trained Trinity boxers.
The first death-knell to Trinity boxing was in1962 but, like the phoenix, it sprang back to life in 1976 with the trainers being Bobby Jayaweera, Leslie Handunge and Sarath Jayasinghe. Now that a professional ring has been donated by Dion Gomez, Trinity boxing may once again be on the fast track.
Boxing has produced a plethora of fearless and skillful rugger players and some names that come to mind are of Rajah Dias Sumanasekera who captained the country as a fine inner-three, H.L. Ellis, George and Roy Wells, Sydney Ratwatte, M.S. Daniel, M. Than On, E. Aluvihare, Henry Young, Leslie Handunge, Michael Kagwa, Tony Mahat, D.L.Y. Pakstun, Michael Schokman, Ryan Tucker, Mahinda Ratwatte, Sena and Tony de Sylva and Mervyn Panditaratne.