Fifteen boxers celebrated their gold medals at the 51st Golden Gong Tournament in North Macedonia’s capital city, in Skopje which event is holding parallel with the Youth World Boxing Championships. There were two winners in some of the weight classes due to the number of the participants in Skopje where Montenegro’s Stefan was named as the Best Boxer of the Tournament.
The President of the Boxing Association of North Macedonia Mr. Primislav Dimovski worked hard with his team to arrange the traditional tournament in Skopje during the Covid-19 period in 2021. The Boris Trajkovski Hall is the venue of the Golden Gong Tournament as in the recent editions and the team delegations can stay in the Hotel Continental Skopje during the international event.
The bout of the day
Hungary’s Gabor Virban won the title at the bantamweight (54kg) in the 2021 National Championships and he received the right to compete at the EUBC European Men’s Elite Boxing Championships in Yerevan this May. The 24-year-old Hungarian’s twin brother Martin achieved a silver medal at the flyweight (51kg) but after that Gabor was highly motivated to earn a title in Skopje. The experienced Hungarian had a hard final battle against Kosovo’s Bashkim Bajoku who impressed in his U22 competitions. The Kosovan did not give up the fight and Bajoku moved forward until the very end of the bout but Gabor Virban’s technical skills decided their tight final.
The surprise of the day
North Macedonia’s Halim Nasufi is a new face in the international events but he demonstrated his power, stamina and physical condition in the final of the light middleweight (71kg) in Skopje. The local boxer had a well-experienced opponent, Scotland’s Stephen Newns who represented his nation at the Commonwealth Games and several big championships. The Scotsman was punctual in the bout but Nasufi’s aggressive style of boxing delivered a surprise gold medal for North Macedonia.
England’s Hamza Mehmood was the first gold medallist at the 51st Golden Gong Tournament following his clear success over Hungary’s Martin Virban. The 24-year-old Hungarian had more international contests than his English rival, but Mehmood solved this tactical contest and earned his first title in 2022. His teammate, George Crotty is member of the British Marines and he had a tough performance against Montenegro’s EUBC European Youth Champion Petar Lijesevic at the cruiserweight (86kg) final.
England’s Jack Dryden represented his country at the 2017 EUBC European Schoolboys Boxing Championships and the 19-year-old talent joined their development programs. The English featherweight (57kg) boxer was effective against North Macedonia’s Oren Shakirovski and earned a gold medal in Skopje. In the second group of the weight class, Bulgaria’s ex-Cuban Javier Ibanez was too fast for a local boxer, Alen Rustemov and bagged his next international title.
Sweden’s Hadi Hadrus won his first ever international gold medal following his success over Hungary’s 19-year-old Mark Balog in the first final of the lightweight (60kg). North Macedonia’s Dion Lena earned the second gold medal in this weight class after beating Scotland’s Nicholas Devlin by split decision. Loriz Idrizi who had a narrow success over Sweden’s Muhammed Al-Malik at the welterweight (67kg), captured Kosovo’s first gold medal in the Golden Gong Tournament.
Montenegro’s Stefan Savkovic not only won his final and the gold medal but he was named as the Best Boxer of the Golden Gong Tournament. The 22-year-old Montenegrin had a strong final opponent, Kosovo’s best hope, Patriot Behrami but Savkovic managed to win two out of three rounds in Skopje. Bulgaria’s middleweight (75kg) No.1, Rami Kiwan earned his next title after beating the ex-Swedish boxer, Yohannes Berhane who switched back to his homeland and represents Eritrea.