the ring to Scotland Yard
By Bernie Wijesekera
Geoffrey Van Cuylenberg– a product of St. Michael’s
College, Polwatte (Kollupitiya) excelled in boxing while at school
and brought honours to his school on several occasions. His brothers
Winston, Hans and Ernest too were outstanding boxers.
has now retired after serving Scotland Yard, UK as a Fingerprint
officer. I met him on his recent visit to Sri Lanka on January 12
at Renuka Hotel, Colombo.
Q: Did your father box?
A: My Pa, Alec never boxed, But he was the cog-in-the wheel.
Life was never a “Bed of Roses”.
A: Yes. We never enjoyed the privileges that the present
day boxers are endowed with. It’s good. But they must be committed,
to bring the sports to past glories. We worked hard on our own.
Even with our limited resources. My coach was the late Anton John.
Anton should be in the Hall of Fame.
What was the secret behind your success?
A: Had a good trainer (fitness) competent coach and mental
toughness. Finally do it yourself. Road work cutting, logs etc.
Were there sponsors?
A: No. we had to work hard on our own with our limited
resources which included travelling.
Who were the boxers, who caught your eye, besides your brother Winston?
A: The Bulner brothers, Sumith Liyanage etc.
What was the most unforgettable moment in your career?
A: My first professional fight. The Chief Guest was that
great Frenchman Georges Carpentier, the former World Heavyweight
champion, in London. My professional fee was £80.
But you still fought and took to the professional ring. It’s
like work and play, or learn our books and learn to play the game.
A: Yes. My opponent was Eric Elderfield. I was cool and
composed. Punched and counter-punched.
No quarter given, none asked for.
A: Yes. My first professional fight was a fitting draw.
The fans were stunned by the little Lankan’s performances
in the (fly-weight). Besides the purse the audience threw their
money in appreciation of my first professional stint in the ring.
My professional career was short-lived due to my official commitments
at Scotland Yard Police headquarters. Two wins, two losses and two
My brother Winston was the first professional from Ceylon (Bantam
weight). He represented the country in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
What was your best fight here?
A: As a schoolboy in 1962 against that rugged sailor W.R.M.
Vincent. Had eight fights against him.
What was your first job?
A: As an 18-year old I joined the then Sun newspaper as
a proof reader. Later I served as a sports journalist under Sam
Younoos, Sports Editor. It was short, then I migrated to England
to join the Scotland Yard Police.
What have you got to say about boxing now and then?
A: The present standard is reasonably good. At the last
Commonwealth Boxing Championship in Glasgow, Scotland, I witnessed
the fights. Our boys fared well winning two bronze medals. The present
facilities afforded to them by the president, ABA Dian Gomes, is
excellent. I am confident before long with this encouragement the
sport will reach greater heights. With job opportunities afforded
to them to be in continuity (economically). Sri Lanka should be
able to match Asia’s best in the lower weights, in the years
to come. During my time, I had to borrow the shoes, even the boxing
shorts to take to the ring.