The Irish girls earned two gold medals in the first phase of the finals at the Strandja Memorial Tournament

27 February 2022 News

Twelve finals took place in the venue of the 73rd Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria today where Russia, Ireland and Bulgaria celebrated titles among the European countries. The Irish girls as Kellie Harrington and Aoife O’Rourke impressed in their finals and defeated well-experienced opponents.

The Strandja Memorial Tournament to be continued with its second part of the finals in Sofia on Sunday. Six women’s and seven men’s champions will be crowned in the eighth competition day tomorrow.

The Strandja Memorial is Europe’s oldest international boxing tournament and has a strong brand name therefore high number of stars and nations decided to compete in Sofia. IBA will arrange the money prizes and boxers can earn new world ranking points during the 73rd Strandja Memorial Tournament.

The first edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament was held in Sofia in 1950 and the competition saw amazing stars in the recent decades. The new edition of the Strandja Memorial Tournament holds in all of 12 women’s and 13 men’s weight categories in the Bulgarian capital.

The safety of all participants, the continuous medical checks, the social distancing, the hygienic preparations, the check of the vaccinations, wearing masks and all of the health controls are the responsibility of the local organizers in Sofia to avoid any new Covid-19 cases during the 2022 Strandja Memorial Tournament.

The bout of the day

Ireland’s Kellie Harrington is not only a friendly and smiley person in the boxing events but she is currently one of the best female boxers in the whole globe. She won almost all of the major championships in the recent four years and she is still hungry for the further triumphs. The Irish lightweight (60kg) star eliminated Kazakhstan’s ASBC Asian Champion Rimma Volosenko in the last four and she expected another hard battle against Serbia’s ex-Russian Natalia Shadrina. The experienced Irish finished the first round with excellent hooks and took the lead on each of the judges’ scorecards. Harrington knew how to stop her opponent who switched from Russia to Serbia in 2020 and since then she won several international tournaments. Shadrina landed a few nice shots in the third round but Harrington worked hard to win their impressive final bout.

The surprise of the day

Ireland’s Aoife O’Rourke joined to the national team in 2017 and she had only a few international contests before she won the title of the middleweight (75kg) at the 2019 EUBC European Women’s Boxing Championships. O’Rourke had a tough rival in the semi-finals, Russia’s two-time AIBA Youth World Champion Anastasia Shamonova but she managed to win that contest in Sofia. The Irish boxer met with Panama’s former AIBA Women’s World Champion experienced star, Atheyna Bylon in Sofia to earn her next big title. O’Rourke surprised the Panamanian boxer in the first round with her dynamism and took the lead immediately. The referee counted Bylon in the second while O’Rourke produced an incredible final round earned Ireland’s second gold medal in Sofia.

The Round-Up

Bulgaria’s Stanimira Petrova started her boxing career relatively late but she needed only short time to win the title of the Jeju 2014 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. She claimed gold medal at the 2016 and 2018 EUBC European Women’s Boxing Championships and at the Minsk 2019 European Games too. Following her impressive successes, she decided to move down to the bantamweight (54kg) where she feels herself better and quicker. The Bulgarian boxer eliminated Russia’s veteran Natalia Samokhina in the last four and faced with Kazakhstan’s Dina Zholaman for the title. Petrova was highly motivated and concentrated in the first round to take the important first three minutes against the former AIBA Women’s World Champion Kazakh boxer. The Bulgarian could keep the best fighting distance in the whole contest and used her height advantage well to beat Zholaman.  

Russia’s veteran Saadat Dalgatova was AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships silver medallist already in the Jeju 2014 edition. She had a small break in her career but returned in top shape and the Russian proved her best ever performance in the Strandja Memorial Tournament. The Russian welterweight (66kg) boxer found the best tactic against Germany’s EUBC European U22 Champion Stefanie Von Berge in the first round. Dalgatova moved lot on feet and the 13-year-older Russian caught the tall Von Berge with quick shots in the opening minutes. Von Berge moved ahead more than any in of her previous contests, but the Russian landed strong punches and won their final.  

Russia’s Dulma Lumbunova is a younger hope at the women’s heavyweight (+81kg) and she competed in less international events yet than many of her teammates but she advanced to the final of the Strandja Memorial Tournament. She had to meet with Kazakhstan’s Lazzat Kungeibayeva who claimed gold at the 2016 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. The younger Russian was quicker in the exchanges and she had the better punches from longer distance. The Kazakh veteran was not able to adopt her rhythm therefore Lumbunova won the last title of the seventh competition day.

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