Olympic medallists as Potkonen and Beliakova opened the Strandja Memorial Tournament with strong performance20 February 2018
The Strandja Memorial Tournament is the strongest elite competition in Europe which began with its 69th edition in the Bulgarian capital in Sofia. The stars of the European continent as Finland’s Mira Potkonen, Russia’s Anastasia Beliakova and Ukraine’s Dmytro Zamotayev won their first preliminary contests in the event.
The first edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament was held in Sofia in 1950 when all of the winners were boxers from the host nation while the Bulgarian Boxing Federation decided to raise the level of the event in the recent years. Women elite boxers also added to the Strandja Memorial Tournament still back in 2011.
Further Bulgarian cities besides to Sofia such as Yambol, Plovdiv, Pleven, Pazardjik and Gabrovo also hosted the Strandja Memorial Tournament in the recent two decades but the event returned to the capital city in 2012.
Altogether 143 men and 93 women boxers from 30 countries are taking part in the 69th edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia. Russia, Kazakhstan, United States of America, China, England, Ukraine, India, Mongolia, Brazil, Italy, Canada, Romania, Morocco, and host Bulgaria are all attending among the top boxing nations in Sofia.
Sweden’s Lise Sandebjer claimed silver medal in the last edition of the EUBC European Confederation Women’s Boxing Championships in Sofia and after a short break she returned to the Bulgarian capital. The Swedish boxer, who moved up to the flyweight (51kg), recovered from her injury and launched effective punches against Bulgaria’s former AIBA Women’s Youth World Champion Venelina Poptoleva.
Romania’s Claudia Nechita has won the Nations Women’s Cup in Serbia last month which was her first big success among the elite boxers. The Romanian flyweight (51kg) boxer had difficulties against her Asian opponent, Pinky Jangra Rani who won the Indian Open Boxing Tournament three weeks ago. Nechita found her best fighting distance in time and defeated her top Indian rival winning the bout by split decision.
Finland’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze medallist Mira Potkonen has been working as a professional athlete since 2013 and her hard work paid off in the recent years. Finland’s best woman boxer started the year with a gold medal at the Indian Open Boxing Tournament and proved she is in different level than Czech Republic’s Katerina Humlova who was her first rival in the Strandja Memorial Tournament.
Russia’s Anastasia Beliakova was also bronze medallist in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as Mira Potkonen and could be the Finnish boxer’s main rival at the lightweight (60kg) in the Strandja Memorial Tournament. The Russian boxer felt the tempo well against her six years younger opponent Spain’s Youth National Champion Melissa Gonzalez Tudge and advanced to the last eight in Sofia.
Ukraine’s Dmytro Zamotayev claimed bronze medal in the Doha 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships and arrived to Sofia as one of the favourite of the flyweight (52kg). The Ukrainian boxer was not enough shape in the first round against Morocco’s 19-year-old Yassine Bendadda but changed his rhythm in time to beat his North African rival.
Azerbaijan’s Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympian Masud Yusifzada has been preparing to the upcoming EUBC European Confederation U22 Boxing Championships where he is one of the favourite as in the Strandja Memorial Tournament. The 21-year-old flyweight (52kg) boxer had to show his very best to eliminate Bulgaria’s National Champion Tinko Banabakov in a hectic contest.
Greece’s best boxer Alexandros Tsanikidis qualified for the Hamburg 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championships as lone from his country last year. The Armenian-descent Tsanikidis is competing in his previous category at the light welterweight (64kg) in Sofia but he was still enough quick to triumph over England’s WSB boxer Connor Loftus.
Bulgaria’s Kristiyan Dimitrov claimed silver medal in the last edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament and the heavyweight (91kg) boxer is planning to do better this year. Dimitrov has done his first step successfully when he bowed out Mauritius’ experienced Cedric Louis Olivier in his debuting contest in Sofia.