The announcer calls her the Iron Lady number one.Clad in a black T-shirt and a pair of black shorts, 20-year-old Miyurangi Kulasekara gets onto the stage. She is about to make history alongside Divya Fernando as the first female duo to battle at a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) championship in Sri Lanka.
With determination in her eyes and using her boxing background to her advantage and emerged as the winner at the Ceylon Fight Night, last year. A few months later, Miyurangi told the Daily News that she was confident that she would win.
Hailing from Kandy and now settled with her coach turned husband in Matale, Miyurangi is training for more competitions this year. She finds it hard to find time while working at their chicken farm.
“It was hard to find time to prepare for the MMA match. I think I trained for less than a month,” she said.
To Miyurangi’s advantage was her school-day training. In 2017 she won gold in the Sanda weight class 40kg at a national Martial Arts Competition, the same year she won gold at the National Youth Wushu Competition, and again won gold at the General Anurudda Ratwatte Memorial all island Wushu Championship. In 2018 she went on to win gold at the South Asian Open Jeet Kune Do Championship.
After becoming the reigning champion at the MMA fight last year, she went on to win gold at the All Island Wushu (Sanda) Championship in the 48kg weight class.
“I think I was always good at it (martial arts). When I first started two other girls trained with me in school. After a while, they stopped and there was only me,” she said.
Determined to pursue her passion, she trained with the boys. “My friends and teachers told me that this was a boys’ sport, but I didn’t listen to them.” A few years later, those who opposed her training in Sanda and Jeet Kune Do at school, praised her for her accomplishments.
Her sister, Chalani Hansamali, said that initially, Miyarangi didn’t get the support from her family.
“But later my father, who did sports in the Sri Lanka Army, supported her. He accompanied her to go to competitions,” Hansamali said. She added that now, her family is proud of Miyurangi’s determination. Hansamali said that Miyurangi was a rebel in school. “No one could fight and win with her,” she added laughing.
Miyurnagi’s husband and former coach, Gihan Srilal, said that they have big plans for this year. “Whenever we have time, we are training to compete in other national tournaments,” he said.
In 2018 Miyurangi and Gihan were both selected to take part in the World Jeet Kune Do Championship in Bangkok, Thailand. However, the couple didn’t have the money to make the trip. “There was no one to sponsor us too. Martial arts are not very popular in our villages so there wasn’t much support,” Gihan said.
Miyurangi is hopeful that this year she could further excel in martial arts. “I really love this sport. If you have determination and passion then you can be a champion.”
The post Miyurangi wrestles her way to shatter the glass ceiling appeared first on DailyNews.