Kumuda Prasanna, who hails from Horana, in the suburbs of Colombo, was unable to pursue higher studies. But, he doesn’t regret it, as he is more comfortable as a Thai Kick-Boxer, a sport with a high risk of physical injuries. Unemployed at present, the 29-year-old is a National figure as the first local athlete to [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

‘Rags’ to Gold in Kickboxing


The historic fight where Kumudu recorded his 10th victory in order to reach the World Cage, the Pro level in Muay Thai

Kumuda Prasanna, who hails from Horana, in the suburbs of Colombo, was unable to pursue higher studies. But, he doesn’t regret it, as he is more comfortable as a Thai Kick-Boxer, a sport with a high risk of physical injuries. Unemployed at present, the 29-year-old is a National figure as the first local athlete to compete internationally at Thai Kick-Boxing, better known as Muay Thai.

Adding another feather to his cap of victories, he achieved professional status and won his latest bout at the MX Muay Xtreme Competition held in Bangkok, Thailand, where the Martial Arts sport originated. His record tally presently reads 11 bouts, 10 wins and 1 loss in the fighting cage, and a heavy blow from his employer who expelled him when he returned with the impressive feat.

“It’s never been a bother, despite being tough to survive in life. Leave aside my nutritional requirement as an athlete, I have another mouth to feed. My wife Rasanjali is a graduate and she’s unemployed too. With other commitments around, we are going through a bad patch, but she’s happier than I’m for my achievements. That’s the biggest comfort I have at present,” says Prasanna, who talks high of his wife, of 4 months.

Prasanna’s feat, where he created history in Sri Lanka, by winning his fight by knockout at the recent MX Muay Xtreme competition held in Bangkok in the international Muay Thai arena, gives him and his coach Asoka Jayaratne fresh hopes. Prasanna managed to win the bout in the 60kg weight category, against a formidable Thai fighter whose professional record is more impressive than the gritty Lankan’s. His mentor and coach, Jayaratne said Prasanna has a kind and gritty heart, full of energy and excitement, that makes him a successful individual.

The wild backyard -- Kumudu's training ground

“I first met him in 2012. He phoned me, but I usually have a eye-to-eye with all my students before taking them on. He told me his background and I gathered that we both were in the same boat, where poverty, hardship and misfortune dominated. He was really keen, which impressed me, and took him on. By 2015, with the help of some friends in Thailand, I was able to take him into the international arena. By January 6 this year, after 10 bouts and 9 wins, he has managed to reach the World Cage, which is a great achievement. There are two others like Prasanna, but he is the best in town. The aim now is to record more wins at top level and reach High Rank Cages, followed by a Gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Before that, we are hoping to see Muay Thai recognised as a Sport in Sri Lanka,” said Jayaratne.

Jayaratne began his stint as a trainer and promoter of Muay Thai which he mastered in Thailand, in 2006. His inability to reach the International Cage as an athlete, had many setbacks, and he does not want Prasanna to undergo similar trauma. Prasanna, a former boxer at Vidyartha University College, with an obsession for martial arts, knows his coach’s will.

“I would have been an ordinary individual, if life treated me better than what I went through. I lost my parents early in life, and was brought up by some distance relatives, with less motivation from those around me for studies. I was gifted with a small plot of land by my foster parents, who happen to be distant grand-aunty and uncle. I was really passionate about Martial Arts, and switching from Boxing after 3 years, in 2005, is a move I will never ever regret. I did odd jobs, because permanent employment would not help my training. For these reasons, I could not have a comfortable life, as others of my age did.”

A great fighter, yet a devoted family man. Kumudu with his wife Rasanjali, a qualified graduate presently unemployed

Despite his ambitious statements and impressive achievements, Prasanna is actually passing through a sandstorm in real life. Jobless, yet a caring husband to a well qualified wife Rasanjali, and a medal prospect at international level, does not feel pity about his inability to give his wife the best a husband could. He was a fabricator by profession since 2006, before losing his employment a couple of weeks ago.

“I hope the hardships would cease soon. What I like about this sport is that it is a meditation, though it seems like a fight. It teaches respect of self and others. But I’m proud to represent my country and hold the Lion flag aloft at the highest level of international Muay Thai competition, the home of the sport, and bring glory to Sri Lanka as a professional athlete. For me, this is just the baptism, and there’s a long way to with more ambitions,” Prasanna beamingly stressed.

Prasanna is at the head of over 450 other athletes engaged in this sport from 7 Districts in Sri Lanka. At present, other than the Muay Thai Association of Sri Lanka (MTASL), the official governing body representing Sri Lanka at international Muay Thai competitions, there are a few domestic clubs. The sport has gained headway in Sri Lanka, with a National championship conducted a couple of years ago. Jayaratne stated that the MTASL has done all the background work to register Muay Thai in Sri Lanka, and feel confident it will happen soon. Prasanna’s future will depend very much on that decision.

Kumudu aims to reach the Olympics in 2020 - Pix by Amila Gamage

“The next competition takes place in Thailand on February 20. We will get conformation by tomorrow (Monday).

To be frank, I find my ticket fare with savings from my Martial Arts class and for Prasanna, I always seek the support of my students. That has been the practice right throughout. My students are very helpful in that way. Both of us are really indebted to them,” Jayaratne revealed.

At present, Prasanna desperately needs employment and the backing to continue in his mission in Muay Thai. He has put Sri Lanka on the world map of this highly energy consuming sport, but sadly, Prasanna is at the receiving end. Prasanna’s latest achievement has opened the door for him to compete at the highest professional level, and for others to reach the World Cage. But the lanky, gritty fighter is well aware that his best days in life are going to come to an end soon.

“My main ambition is to reach the Olympics in Tokyo, win a medal there, most probably a Gold in my weight category, and then tutor the next generation. There is a huge element of risk in this sport but, if you master the craft with proper guidance, it’s a meditation and a way of life. I’m certain that life will treat me fair during the time, so I could accomplish my goals, and give back to my country with pride and dignity,” were his parting words.

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