The old YMCA building in Colombo is where a group of young boxers gathers to train, guided by their coaches. Within the walls of the building is a little boxing ring where boys are moulded into men.

Sometimes, the boxers are taken to the hills for for a sparring session with some of the best boxers in the country. We visited both the YMCA in Colombo, and Nugawela Central College in Kandy, to capture the grit and intensity of the training which goes into this timeless sport.

Colombo on your left and Kandy to your right

Mr. Vincent has been coaching YMCA fighters for years now; he is a former-Sri Lanka Navy officer and is in perfect shape for a man of 78 years.

Fighters need a strong neck to prevent a Glass Jaw (vulnerability to knockout punches), thus they are put through a series of neck exercises to strengthen the muscles around the neck region

Coach Vincent shows the boys how it’s done: finger pushups for rock hard knuckles

Indika does his exercises to strengthen his core muscles. This is vital to prevent damage to the liver during a fight. A weak core could easily make one drop his/her guard down

Rule No.1 NEVER take your eyes off your opponent

YMCA’s Coach Adam gives Vishnu some pep talk before the sparring session

Adam is from Philadelphia, a former-US Marine, and coaches the boxers down at the YMCA along with Coach Vincent.

End of Round Two, Gajan is exhausted and crippled by Sasanthaka, Adam lifts spirits up

End of Round Three; more pep talk

Good job, son

Shadow boxing

Aggression and intimidation are also part of the game; they can greatly influence the end result sometimes.

The boys keep at it, ignoring the sweat and exhaustion

Skipping helps increase stamina and endurance

According to Coach Vincent, the easiest way to knock someone out is to jab at the chin and once the head drops, deliver a right hook to the face. A knockout works on the biochemistry of head trauma, where a fighter experiences a mini concussion and his body temporarily shuts down to recover from the hit.

Shashika shadow boxing to the point of exhaustion

Shashika trains on the bag

After a long day of training and getting beat up, when your coach pushes you to workout some more, these boxers break barriers they thought existed

Southpaw Sasanthaka

It is late evening, and as the young boxers wrap up for the day, amd a pair of old gloves sits abandoned on a desk