Indian boxers Nikhat Zareen & Nitu Win Gold Medals at Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Bulgaria

Indian boxers Nikhat Zareen & Nitu Win Gold Medals at Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Bulgaria

By: WE Staff | Monday, 28 February 2022

At the 73rd Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, Indian boxers Nikhat Zareen and Nitu won gold medals.

Zareen won her second gold medal at Europe's oldest international boxing tournament, the European Championships, with a 4-1 victory in the women's 52kg final. In 2019, she won the Strandja Memorial title for the second time.

Nitu outpunched Italy's Erika Prisciandro, the reigning Youth World Championships bronze medalist, 5-0 in the women's 48kg final.

Bhaskar Bhatt, coach of the national women's team, stated, “Both of them displayed completely different styles but both produced excellent performances. Credit to Nitu for keeping her composure and trusting her counter-attacks against an aggressive opponent. Nikhat had to fight from close range throughout and she did well to land clear punches even though her opponent was not giving her a clear shot.”

The Indian contingent finished with three medals in the event, which was part of India's maiden exposure trip this year, with Nandini finishing on the podium in the +81kg category and signing off with a bronze medal.

Zareen did not have the smoothest of openings in her match against Ukraine's Tetiana Kob, as her veteran opponent went aggressive from the outset. Zareen was put on the back foot by the 34-year-old former World Championship bronze medalist, who exploited all of her expertise. However, as the match went, the Indian gained confidence and battled back to take a 4-1 lead in the first round.

The 25-year-old Telangana boxer, who upset Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Buse Naz Cakiroglu of Turkey in the semi-finals, had a solid start and appeared in perfect control for the remainder of the bout, landing some quick scoring blows before securing a decisive win.

Previously, Nitu, who is from Haryana, made a guarded start and took her time settling down. She kept her distance and put the Prisciandro to the test. There was little power striking, but the fight became more exciting in the second round, with both boxers exchanging punches

Nitu, the two-time young world champion who knocked out former world championships silver medalist Hanna Okhota of Ukraine in the previous match, was the more aggressive of the two and stunned her Italian opponent with a combination of punches and speed. After dominating the first two rounds, Nitu forced Prisciandro to work hard for a point in the final three minutes, securing the gold medal with ease, winning a lopsided bout by unanimous decision.

The prestigious tournament, which was the first in the Golden Belt Series and a test event for the International Boxing Association's World Boxing Tour format, featured thrilling action in the presence of top boxers from 36 countries around the world, including strong boxing nations like Kazakhstan, Russia, Italy, and France.