Pugilist Tharindu Madushanke can be compared to one of those rare characters that can be found only in Hollywood action movies, where the hero would toil hard, make crucial sacrifices and yet keep the action intact, so the story plot ends in a triumphant thrill. At 28, Tharindu works as an Administrative Executive at a [...]


The trendsetting ‘Tarzan’


With his sporty friends of Kingswood

Pugilist Tharindu Madushanke can be compared to one of those rare characters that can be found only in Hollywood action movies, where the hero would toil hard, make crucial sacrifices and yet keep the action intact, so the story plot ends in a triumphant thrill.

At 28, Tharindu works as an Administrative Executive at a reputed construction company, closer to his home in Ambatenna, Kandy, after having graduated in Business Management. But that’s something mere from a different perspective, for someone who has high interest from mixed martial arts to meditation, the destination of his path after the now-highly energised life.

Tharindu is somebody to many in numerous ways, a son, brother, friend, life partner, colleague and so on. Only a few outside his circle know that Tharindu is a boxer with many national titles around his waist from different categories and stages.

Yet, only a few out of them are aware that Tharindu made his debut in professional boxing at the Middle East Crown Boxing Championship in the UAE last week, and he is impressively making progress to make his country proud.

He fought against Mamandou Bissiriou, a Guinea by nationality based in the UAE, in his first bout but lost by a whisker 38-39 to his much experienced opponent in the cruiserweight category. At a glance, it may look intimidating, but for a debutant, the final outcome was as impressive as winning the bout, considering his record in Sri Lanka and his potential as an amateur boxer.

“It was not a ‘plug-in and play’ sort of thing for me at my first bout in professional boxing. I had to go through a thorough scrutiny to win this bout firstly,” Tharindu, who returned to Sri Lanka on Friday, told the Sunday Times.

Tharindu had been dreaming of becoming a professional boxer since the day he took up the pair of gloves as a youngster. Since his first bout as a schoolboy to his latest as an amateur, Tharindu has been in 102 bouts and won 88 times. Out of those wins, 39 are from knockouts.

The masculin Tharindu Madushanke (in red) at a local meet

Representing Kingswood College, Kandy, Tharindu has won the gold medal at TB Jayah Meet, and more than twice at Junior Nationals, Junior Youth and Junior and Youth Cadet meets. As an amateur he has won the Leighton Cup, Clifford Cup and thrice at the National Festival Games, ranging from weight categories of 64, 69, 75, 81 and 95 kilograms.

The passage to UAE was created through a recommendation sought by the organiser of the Middle East Crown Boxing Championship — Dunstan Rosairo, the chairman of DMJC Events and Bandula Ratnapala, the proprietor of the USA-based New Jersey Boys Boxing Club, Tharindu did not hesitate to make a quick and direct decision. With the global changes in boxing, allowing amateurs to engage in professional and vice versa, his choice was clear.

“It was an obvious yes. I was waiting for this opportunity my whole life,” said the seven-time national champion.

Though the invitation came with open arms, Tharindu was not guaranteed a bout as per the protocols of professional boxing. The organisers gave him clear directives to follow to see his eligibility in earning one. Among the requirements were a strong recommendation, his data including competition history and his profile, which was already too impressive for an amateur boxer.

He had to be in UAE four days prior for scrutiny and an analyse procedure which included in-ring training sessions, programmes on injuries and safety measures, and important set of advise a professional boxer must follow.

“I had to be highly focused during these four days and when I was told that I could compete as a pro boxer, I hardly had time to study about my opponent. But it was a good bout overall,” said the pugilist groomed by Rukman Wekadapola.

Surprising many, Tharindu won the first round but lost his return round. The third round belonged to the Sri Lankan, yet the pugilist from Guinea used his experience to square the four-round bout and win by 39-38.

“As amateurs we are used for three rounds, the fourth was a new experience. I lost my endurance by the fourth round, but it was a close fight. There’s more I can learn”.

By the end of his bout Tharindu Madushanke had earned the nickname ‘Tarzan’ and more importantly new value additions to his life as a newborn professional boxer. He was invited for the third series of the Middle East Crown Boxing Championship and to a series in India.

“I was also offered a training programme in the UAE, which is brilliant. Life ahead will not be the same,” he added.

Upon returning to Sri Lanka, Tharindu now has another mission to complete before he could single-handedly focus on a professional career. He has put his sight in the upcoming Commonwealth Games 2022 to be held in Birmingham, England and he is assured of winning a medal.

The poster placed in UAE to promote Tharindu's bout

“It’s a matter of a balancing act for the time being. It’s not just between two, I have more areas to think about, but the destination is pro boxing,” he assured.

Under the wings of his coach Wekadapola, who strongly believes his potential of winning a medal at Commonwealth Games, Tharindu intends to continue training, while also continuing his day job at Gayasad Construction. He does not wish to burden his profession for his boxing commitments, nor does he trouble his employer, though Tharindu’s achievement is of national interest.

“I compete under the Sri Lankan flag, that’s my right. My employer gave official permission to take part in the UAE competition, but it was my first time. I really don’t know how they will take it in the future. If noting helps, that’s when I will have to make a firm decision,” he said with a clear mind.

Tharindu is clear of where he wants to be in another 12 months and further down the path as he progress as a pro boxer. For that he is even willing to put aside his hard-earned degree and the well-respected and fitting profession to fulfill his boxing dreams. With the global acceptance of amateur and professional boxing as two sides of one coin, Tharindu is eager to assist himself in the future.

“I could use the funds from professional boxing to support my amateur career as a last resort until I win that medal at Commonwealth Games. Then I’ll focus totally on professional boxing,” he explained.

Tharindu will have to navigate through harsh terrains, until he learns the trade secrets, but armed with a Business Management degree, managing his own self would not be as tough as it may look. The recent trip to UAE has given him more insight on how professional boxing is conducted, how athletes are managed, the monetary benefits could be gained through sponsorships, endorsements and prize money, and more over the reputation he could gain for self and the country.

Tharindu would become the trendsetter or the pioneer to take professional boxing with a serious mind, if his pace continues to grow with every step forward. As his nickname ‘Tarzan’, Tharindu is capable of storming any weather, and intends to make a name for himself as any other professional boxer in the world.

For Tharindu, the journey has just begun as a professional boxer, but desolately he is the ‘right one’ from Sri Lanka, where this version of the sport is yet to pick up. But he is a survivor, and if he does reach that pinnacle, the change of impression on pro boxing in Sri Lanka will change, forever.

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