An article by Chaniru Senhas (Grade 8)
Boxing at Trinity
Boxing has traditionally been one of Trinity’s most exciting sports, both among alumni and students. The beginnings of Boxing dates to 1907 when only younger students were allowed to be a part of the sport. Since 1913, Boxing became a main-stream sport in college and many inter-house tournaments were held. Consequently, in 1914 Trinity won its first battle for the Stubbs Shield.
Trinity boxing became defunct in 1962, but, it sprang back to life in 1975 with the trainers being Bobby Jayaweera, S. B. Kiridena, Leslie Handunge and Sarath Jayasinghe and culminated with winning the Stubbs in 1983. Sadly, the second death-knell was dealt to Trinity boxing in 1984 and was again revived in 2005 and continues to this day.
Joe Louis of Ceylon
Leslie Donovan Perera Handunge, better known as Leslie Handunge, who has been a colleague of Duncan White, was the only Olympic boxer produced by Trinity. He was born on the 18th of June, 1921 and he lived to an age of 100 years. He was one of the finest sportsmen produced by Trinity College.
After joining Trinity, he was guided by many coaches. He lived in Matale at the time. Leslie represented Garret House in four major sports: cricket, boxing, rugby, and athletics. His siblings too were well-known sportsmen and sportswomen in their respective fields.
Leslie became captain of the College Boxing Team in 1939 while keeping the family tradition as his father too was the captain of the College Boxing team. He was a multitalented athlete who also achieved a place in the National Boxing team.
Immediately after leaving Trinity in 1940, Leslie joined the College staff from 1942 to 1944.
He enrolled in Peradeniya University’s Agriculture Faculty in 1947 to pursue a degree in agriculture, and subsequently won the Manning Cup for Best Boxer at the National Boxing Championship Meet the following year as an undergraduate. Leslie was also the Director of Physical Education at the University of Peradeniya.
Leslie obtained a Diploma in Physical Education from the University of Loughborough UK and a Masters Degree in Physical Education from the University of Springfield USA.
He gained his pride and respect by representing Sri Lanka at the 1948 London Olympics where he participated in the men’s flyweight event. In round one of this event he gained victory by defeating Guillermo Porteiro who was an Uruguayan boxer. Round 2 is where he was defeated by Spartaco Bandinelli, an Italian boxer. Not only at the London Olympics, but Leslie also participated in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. He was awarded Gold medal in round 1 by defeating Walter Tello, a Panamanian boxer in the men’s flyweight event. In round 2 which was a redraw, handunge was defeated by Dai Dower, a boxer from Britain.
Following his Olympic performance, Leslie enrolled in Loughborough College to pursue a Diploma in Physical Education, becoming the first Ceylonese to do so. At the age of 31, Lesie, who was also famously known as ‘Joe Louis of Ceylon,’ announced his retirement from the sport.
Gaining the essence from many past sportsmen produced by Trinity, Boxing continues to be a key sport in College upholding the values of leadership and teamwork.
In Leslie’s own words:
“So Trinity –Leslie Handunge
Play hard, play clean,
Do nothing dirty, nothing mean
Do your best, you can’t do more,
Play the game and forget the score
Respect your opponents treat them with
Above all, maintain the traditions of Trinity.“