Nikhat and Nitu clinch gold medals, Nandini bags bronze at Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament
New Delhi, February 27, 2022
Women pugilists did India proud as Nikhat Zareen and Nitu clinched a gold medal each while Nandini bagged a bronze at the 73rd Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria on Sunday.
Nikhat overwhelmed Ukraine’s Tetiana Kob 4-1 to win the 52kg final. The Indian had previously won the title here in 2019.
Nitu outpunched the reigning Youth World Championships bronze medallist Erika Prisciandro of Italy 5-0 without breaking a sweat in the 48kg final.
Nikhat took time to find her rhythm as her experienced opponent went aggressive from the word go. The 34-year-old former World Championships bronze medallist Kob used all her experience to push Nikhat on the back foot.
But as the bout progressed, the Indian grew in confidence and fought back well to secure a 4-1 lead in the opening round.
The 25-year-old Telangana boxer Nikhat, who beat Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Turkey’s Buse Naz Cakiroglu in the semi-finals, made a strong start and looked in complete control in the remaining part of the bout as she landed some sharp scoring punches before completing a convincing win.
Earlier, Nitu, who hails from Haryana, made a cautious start and took time to settle down. She maintained distance and tested the strength of Italy’s young boxer Prisciandro. There was hardly any power-hitting but the contest was more engaging in the close second round with both the boxers exchanging the punches.
The two-time youth world champion Nitu, who sent the former world championships silver medallist Hanna Okhota of Ukraine packing in the last encounter, was more aggressive between the two and surprised her Italian opponent with a combination of punches and her speed.
Having tilted the first two rounds in her favour, Nitu made Prisciandro work hard for a point in the last three minutes and secured the gold medal comfortably, winning a lop-sided bout by unanimous margin.
Nandini finished on the podium in the +81kg category for a bronze medal, and with that the Indian contingent concluded their campaign with three medals at the tournament, which was part of their first exposure trip this year.
Top boxers from 36 countries took part in the tournament, the first from the Golden Belt Series and a testing event for International Boxing Association’s World Boxing Tour format.