By Susil Premalal
National boxers are sometimes caught in the middle of conflicts between the governing body and clubs who are pulling in different directions which may adversely affect the future development of the sport, according to a leading boxer in the country Keshani Hansika.
A veteran of many international competitions, Hansika is without doubt the top ranked Woman boxer in the country.
She has dominated the lightweight (5760kg) class since 2012, emerging National champion on six occasions in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 failing to win the title only in 2015.
She represented Sri Lanka at the 2014 Glasgow and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, World Championships in South Korea (2014) and China (2015), European Tournament in France (2014 and 2015), Asian Championship in China (2015), South Asian Games (SAG) in Guwahati (2016), Slovenia Cup (2017) in Slovenia and 2019 SAG in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Having begun her boxing career as a schoolgirl at Ananda Balika Vidyalaya, Kotte, emerging Junior National boxing champion in 2010, she swept the boards in Inter-Schools competitions bagging several Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals.
The high point of her international career was winning a Silver Medal at the Eindhoven Boxing Cup in The Netherlands in 2017 and clinching a Bronze Medal at the Indonesian President’s Cup Tournament in 2018.
“I don’t have competition in Sri Lanka. I don’t even have a sparring partner. As a result, I win my bouts very easily.”
“Therefore, I cannot say what my standard is at the moment. Furthermore, I have to train with the Boys. Most of the time when I spar with them, I just defend myself because their shots are hard. I can’t focus on attacking shots,” said Hansika who was adjudged Best Boxer at the Layton Cup and Nationals in 2016.
She pointed out that the boxing authorities must take responsibility for not having a back-up Women’s Boxing Team in Sri Lanka for several years. Accusing some officials of favouritism when it comes to selections, she lamented that the Boxing Association does not have a National Pool.
Although 10 boxers could have participated in the Asia and Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualifying Tournament held in Amman, Jordan in February, only three medallists from the Kathmandu SAG were sent for this event depriving at least four others from making a bid for the postponed Tokyo Olympics, she said.
Having represented MAS for the past 10 years she was the boxing captain of their Sports Club for two years.
“We are locked down at home since March 19 because of the Coronavirus outbreak. Even if we get training schedules to do at home, it is not a success,” said Hansika who has set herself three targets in the future.
“I am determined to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, win a Gold Medal at the 2022 South Asian Games and to win a medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. After I achieve these goals, I am willing to retire from boxing,” said the 29-year-old pugilist who is also a swimming champion.
She has ambitions of becoming a boxing coach after retirement.
“I have begun laying the foundation for it,” she said.
Hansika acknowledged that Boxing Association President Dian Gomes has been the driving force behind the promotion of Women’s boxing in the country but felt they could achieve much more if they had training overseas.
“Our local boxing coaches are of a high standard but it would be even better if there is a Women’s Boxing Coach from the Philippines, Thailand or Cuba,” she said.