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

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Top Indian woman boxer Nikhat Zareen will begin her campaign in the 73rd Strandja Memorial Tournament here with a quarterfinal bout, 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 28.

The 25-year-old Zareen from Telangana, who won gold in the 2019 edition, has received a bye in the 52kg opening round. Apart from Zareen, Nandini (+81kg) is another Indian to feature directly in the last-eight. However, in the 66kg category, Tushir will face a stiff challenge from two-time World Championships medallist Russia’s Saadat Dalgatova in the opening round.

Among men, the 2021 World Championships bronze medallist Akash Kumar has been given a bye in the 67kg opening round while Sumit (75kg) is drawn to begin his campaign against World Championships silver medallist Russia’s Dzhambulat Bizhamov.

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

Varinder Singh (60kg) will begin India’s challenge against Russian Artur Subkhankulov, while Sumit, Lakshya Chahar (86kg) and Narender Berwal (+92kg) are the other Indians to be seen in action on Day 1.

With more than 450 boxers from 36 countries, including strong boxing nations such as Kazakhstan, Italy, Russia and France, competing, the tournament is the first exposure trip for Indian boxers this year.

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

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