It was a memorable evening for us, members of the St. Sylvester's
College OBA, President Mahesh Rajaratne and Kosala Gamage, to meet one
of the finest sportsmen that St. Sylvester's has ever produced. Although
he left the island over four decades ago, to settle down in Australia,
he was so famous and made such impact during his school days as a boxer,
even today the moment you mention his name the sports loving community
and of course all Sylvestrians remember him with pride. I am referring
to the best boxer St. Sylvester's has ever produced none other than
brilliant, marvellous Malcolm Bulner.
I met him in Negombo, just before he left after a short holiday, I
was accompanied by another famous and a classy boxer during his era and
his team mate in the Sri Lanka team Mohammed Jaroof.
Malcolm Bulner is a unique boxer that this country has produced. His
record is unmatchable. From the time he wore his gloves at St.
Sylvester's and up to the time he migrated he was never beaten by any
boxer in Sri Lanka. I don't think any boxer held this record. What is
more significant is, as a schoolboy he passed many a milestones a boxer
could achieve during his career. By the time he left College at the age
of 20 he had already represented Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Games in
Perth, 1962 and Olympics in Tokyo, 1964 and also had beaten all the
champions in his weight class in Sri Lanka and won many best boxer
From the school ring to the national ring he graduated at the tender
age of 18 and as a schoolboy he beat some of the veterans like P.C.
Mahagedara, Hector Ekanayaka, L.V. Douglas, P.G. Neil and of course the
famous Sumith Liyanage. His first fight with Sumith Liyanage who was a
national champion and Olympic Boxer at that time was rates as one of the
most memorable bouts in boxing history.
Malcom Bulner flanked by Mohammed Jaroof (left) and Nimal
Malcolm spoke about his opponents with respect. He said that P.C.
Mahagedara, Hector Ekanayake were tough opponents and Sumith was the
Bulner hit the headlines by beating Liyanage and represented Sri
Lanka at the Commonwealth Games. He again met Liyanage on two occasions
and beat him on both occasions clinched his place for the Tokyo Olympics
I have had the opportunity of speaking to both of them about their
boxing careers. What Liyanage told me was the second bout at
Bambalapitiya Boxing Stadium was one of his best bouts in his career.
He fought like a stubb shield boxer from gong to gong continuously
and at the end of the bout he thought that he had done enough to earn
Malcolm stated that he was dropped for a mandatory count in the first
round by Sumith, he only new that he had won the bout. When he was in
the dressing room where his younger brother Michel was fanning him with
a towel and our Guru Derrick Raymond standing by the side in a happy
mood and informed him of the result of the bout.
Malcolm went on to say that he could remember trying to avoid a right
hand punch from Sumith and after that he could not remember any thing.
The bout lasted the full distance and in the third round he had dropped
Sumith Liyanage for a mandatory count and managed to get the decision in
his favour. Later referee of that bout Hendricus had told Malcolm that
it was one of the finest bouts that he had ever refereed and he had many
Malcolm Bulner remembers all his opponents, sparring partners such as
late A.C.R. Heratge, late Derrick Gunasinghe, D.C. Weerasinghe, D.
Cooray, P. Edmond and many others. He spoke of the late Derrick
Gunasinghe as an excellent sparring partner.
When I posed the question to him has to how he achieved all these as
a schoolboy his reply was: 'discipline'. He used to travel from
Peradeniya to College by train and he trained under the able guidance of
most respected boxing coach during our time Derrick Raymon and he never
dissipated, during his career. He took lot of interest in every training
session and that was the key to his success.
Malcolm migrated to Australia in 1966 and continued his boxing career
and won the Australian National Championship. He was selected to
represent Australia in 1968 Mexican Olympics but it was very unfortunate
that he lost that opportunity. There was a rule in Australia since he
had represented another country he has to be a resident of Australia for
three years to qualify.
He was short of four months. But Australian government was prepared
to bear all his expenses to the Olympics and they were prepared to
permit him to represent Sri Lanka because Australians thought that he
was a potential gold medallist. But it was so sad Sri Lankan authorities
refused permission and balance his history. What an unfortunate end to
brilliant amateur boxing career. Although Australia was trying to
convince him to continue till the next Olympics in 1972, he decided
otherwise and turned professional.
He again won 20 bouts as a professional but he told me, due to a car
accident he sustained a spinal injury which was worrying him and
furthermore he has lost the desire which he had throughout his career to
At present Malcolm Bulner is a WBA referee and had referred many
professional bouts including heavyweight bout of former heavyweight
champion Frank Bruno.
Although many years have passed the name of Malcolm Bulner still
rings a bell in Sri Lanka. This handsome, stylish, brilliant boxer will
be remembered by every boxing fan in this country. Specially because of
his brilliant style, power, and the ring craft, a boxer with a variety
of combination of effective punchers.
His record in the ring as a schoolboy boxer and as a sportsman will
not be matched by any one in this century.
What is unique in him is that he achieved everything as a boxer where
he went on to represent his country at Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games
as a schoolboy and up to that point, I don't think that any schoolboy
had represented Sri Lanka at Olympics.
Malcolm was here on a short holiday with his wife and he is such a
humble person that he wanted his Australian wife to see where he lived,
where he was educated and he told me that he visited their old house in
Peradeniya and shown his wife where he lived and also has visited the
college and take photographs of the ring that produced him and many
brilliant boxers from St. Sylvester's.
Jaroof and the writer were very happy to meet one of the most
respected colleagues of ours who has not lost his common touch and
remembers everything including his opponents with respect and gratitude
and for Mahesh and Kosala the opportunity to meet their school days idol
the marvellous, brilliant Sylvestrian boxer ever to grace the ring was a