Indian boxers were handed tricky draws at the Strandja Memorial tournament even as Nikhat Zareen will begin her campaign in the quarterfinals. Sumit and Anjali Tushir are set to face tough opponents in their respective opening-round bouts.
Zareen, who clinched a gold medal in the 2019 edition, has received a bye in the 52kg opening round. Apart from Zareen, Nandini (+81kg) is another Indian boxer to feature directly in the last-8 stage.
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, Akash has been given a bye in the 67kg opening round while Sumit (75kg) is drawn to start his campaign against the World Championships silver medallist Russia's Dzhambulat Bizhamov on Sunday.
A 17-member Indian team of seven men and 10 women is participating in the tournament which is the first of the Golden Belt Series and also a testing event for International Boxing Association's World Boxing Tour format.
Varinder Singh (60kg) will begin India's challenge on Sunday against Russian Artur Subkhankulov in the men's 60kg category. Sumit, Lakshya Chahar (86kg) and Narender Berwal (+92kg) are the other Indians to be seen in action on Day 1.
Europe's oldest international boxing tournament, which was first held in 1950, will be played till February 27. With over 450 participants from 36 countries, including strong boxing nations such as Kazakhstan, Italy, Russia and France, the highly competitive 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.