Prof Siri Kannangara – A COLOSSUS, A LEGEND – By Maithri Panagoda AM

Prof Siri Kannangara – A COLOSSUS, A LEGEND – By Maithri Panagoda AM


His high-profile patients are a “Who’s Who” of world champions in different sports around the globe. 

The patients adored him, not just as a competent and caring doctor, but as a friend, a mate who could be relied upon when one was confronted with an overwhelming feeling of despair.

Observing bodily movements of a patient, he would quickly diagnose the medical condition. With sharp wit and great humour, tempered with a few spicy words, he would then relay any good news as well as bad news in a lighter vein. He was always generous with his time.

Prof. Siri Kannangara (“Siri”, as he insisted on being called) has been using his in-depth knowledge and refined skills as a Rheumatologist to help the Australian public, in particular the Sri Lankan community in Australia for over 40 years.

A product of Royal College, Siri obtained his MB.BS from the University of Colombo in 1970.

He later became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP) and a Fellow of the Australian College of Sports Physicians (FACSP).


As a gifted teacher, he taught and trained medical students and young doctors for nearly five decades. A highlight of his career was the appointment as a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney.

Sri Lankan sports men and women who travelled to Australia to take part in international events considered it their good fortune to have a consultation with Siri to seek guidance on their medical issues.


The game of soccer is known to be the world’s most popular sport with an estimated 250 million players active in over 200 countries and territories.  The fact that he was the first Australian Medical Officer to be appointed to the Medical Committee of FIFA, the controlling body of world soccer, speaks volumes for the respect and admiration he commanded around the world.

During the 2000 Sydney Olympics, he was invited by the International Olympic Committee to join the torch relay in Sydney.

In 2002, Siri was inducted into the Hall of Fame and Honour Roll of Soccer Australia for services to the game.

In 2013, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to medicine, particularly in the field of sports medicine and rheumatology.

His healing powers are legendary.

The beneficiaries include the Australian tennis legend Evonne Goolagong and cricketers Keith Miller, Dennis Lilee, Max Walker, Mark Taylor, Chappel brothers and Sachin Tandulkar.

A large number of past and present members of the Sri Lankan cricket team owe their extended sporting careers to Prof. Kannangara: Aravinda De Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Chaminda Vaas, Sanath Jayasuriya and Muttiah Muralitharan among them.


His remarkable dedication to the profession and to his patients saw him working from early morning to late evening, six days a week until he was forced to slow down in recent years due to health issues.

Siri walked with Kings, but never forgot his roots, often fondly remembering his village upbringing in Sri Lanka.

It is little wonder that he was loved dearly and venerated by an appreciative community.



Maithri Panagoda AM

Adjunct Professor, School of Law,

University of Notre Dame


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