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Zareen, Nitu win gold at Strandja Memorial Boxing

Source: PTI
February 27, 2022 19:54 IST
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Nikhat Zareen

IMAGE: India's Nikhat Zareen, left, overcame Ukraine's Tetiana Kob in the 52kg final at the 73rd Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

Indian boxers Nikhat Zareen (52kg) and Nitu (48kg) struck gold at the 73rd Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, after comprehensive victories in their respective finals on Sunday.

Nitu beat Italy's Erika Prisciandaro, a former Youth World Championship bronze-medallist, 5-0, while Zareen outpunched Ukraine's Tetiana Kob, a three-time European Championships medallist, 4-1.

 

While Nitu produced a wonderful counter-attacking performance by taking full advantage of her longer reach, Zareen was engaged in a draining and messy bout which had its fair share of clinching, holding and even some tumbling over in the ring.

"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," national women's team coach Bhaskar Bhatt said over phone.

"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," he said.

India finished the tournament with three medals this time, Nandini (+81kg) being the third podium finisher with a bronze.

The Hyderabad-based Zareen, a multiple-time national medallist, had won a gold medal at the Strandja Memorial's 2019 edition as well.

Nitu is a two-time former Youth World champion and also a former gold-medallist at the Asian Youth Championships.

The 21-year-old hails from Haryana's famed cradle of Indian boxing, Bhiwani's Dhanana village.

The youngster was introduced to boxing by her father, who took a three-year leave without pay from his state government job to help her get coaching in her formative days.

He eventually re-joined work in Chandigarh when she started doing well at the international level.

"He works in the Haryana Secretariat and had a huge role to play in shaping her. She is a very hard-working girl," Bhatt said.

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

The performance of the men's squad was underwhelming this time, none of the seven in the fray entering the medal rounds.

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