Cornerman – Stories from the Life of Dian Gomes – Compiled by Vidhura Ralapanawe and Shevanthi Fernando

Cornerman Book Cover
Cornerman Book Cover

It was a fascinating experience to read ‘Cornerman – Stories from the life of Dian Gomes’ few weeks back. Dian Gomes wanted to do a book on his boxing journey to inspire a new generation of boxers and administrators.  However, the authors convinced him that the role of Cornerman that he played was not limited to boxing but also extended to his corporate life.  Therefore the book is a compilation of stories, of growth, leadership and working together towards a dream – of many of the people who Dian Gomes made.

The book says how ardently Dian grooms his team and sporting personalities, and also often gives some of them the freedom to move on from MAS for their career excellence in other establishments. Dian has equally given opportunities for those who came from affluent backgrounds and not-so-privileged backgrounds. If they perform and have the potential, Dian is there to take them to the next levels.

Winning the trust of the owners of MAS, the Amalean family, and winning respect of archrival to MAS, Brandix cannot be treated as mere luck but Dian’s hard work, commitment and his resilient personality.

Taking boxer Anuruddha Rathnayake to the Olympic Games in 2008, after a 40 year lapse of a Sri Lankan boxer representing Sri Lanka in boxing, must be the one of the highest achievements of Dian Gomes. Though he did not win a medal, but his story has inspired many in various sports.

When Manju Wanniarachchi was accused of taking performance enhancing drugs after winning a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, 2010 everyone raised eyebrows and looked at Dian more suspiciously than at the boxer himself. It is good that the book discloses the whole episode of how Manju fell prey to a quack doctor who administrated a doping injection on him and shattered the hopes of an entire country.

The chapter on Dian’s two daughters is full of love and affection towards the father who sacrificed more on other people’s sons and daughters instead of his own. But they do not have hard feelings and understand the bigger picture in relation to father’s larger than life figure in the corporate and sports arenas. It would have been nice if there was a chapter about how Dian’s wife sees him too.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the inclusion of a small paragraph about me and Horizon Lanka Foundation in the book. Both Horizon Lanka and I were immensely benefitted by Dian and MAS in the past. But I did not expect a mention about us in his book.

The design of the book has been done masterfully. My only complaint is the font. The font might look good in a website but not in a printed book. They should have gone for a rounder font. I also wish the book were lighter in weight as it was very difficult to read in bed.