Strandja Memorial: Boxer Nikhat Zareen gets first-round bye, to play in quarters (Ld)

Indian woman boxer Nikhat Zareen will begin her campaign in the 73rd Strandja Memorial Tournament here with a quarterfinal match, while Sumit and Anjali Tushir are set to face tough opponents in their respective opening-round bouts.

The Strandja Memorial Tournament, which is Europe’s oldest international boxing event, is being held from February 20 to 27.

The 25-year-old pugilist from Telangana, Zareen, who clinched the gold medal in the 2019 edition, has received a bye in the 52kg opening round. Apart from Zareen, Nandini (+81kg) is another Indian boxer to feature directly in the last-eight stage.

However, in the 66kg category, Tushir will face a stiff challenge from the two-time World Championships medallist Russia’s Saadat Dalgatova in the opening round.

Among men, Akash Sangwan has been given a bye in the 67kg opening round while Sumit (75kg) is drawn to kickstart his campaign against the World Championships silver medallist Russia’s Dzhambulat Bizhamov.

A 17-member Indian contingent, including seven men and 10 women are participating at the ongoing 73rd edition of the tournament which is also the first from the Golden Belt Series and also a testing event for International Boxing Association’s World Boxing Tour format.

Varinder Singh (60kg) will kick-off India’s challenge on opening day at the prestigious boxing event as he will face Russian Artur Subkhankulov in the men’s 60kg category. Sumit, Lakshya Chahar (86kg) and Narender Berwal (+92kg) are the other Indians to be seen in action on Day 1.

With over 450 boxers participating from 36 countries around the world, including strong boxing nations such as Kazakhstan, Italy, Russia and France, the highly competitive tournament will be the first exposure trip for Indian boxers in 2022.

India won two medals in the last edition of the tournament with Deepak Kumar and Naveen Boora securing silver and bronze respectively.

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