It was double delight for Indian boxer Vikas Krishan at the Strandja Memorial Tournament as he didn’t just claim a gold medal, but was also adjudged the best boxer of the event in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia – a first for an Indian.

The 26-year-old defeated world championships bronze-medallist Troy Isley of the USA in the middle-weight (75 kg) finals to claim his first medal since his Asian Championships bronze last year.

It was a massive turnaround for Krishan, who had not just been laid low by a hand injury but also found himself in the disciplinary line of fire after giving a walkover in his Asian Championships semi-final last year. “It is a big comeback for me and I feel I am a much stronger boxer now. Maintaining my weight at an optimum level, which used to be a problem earlier, is no longer an issue for me. I have also improved my technique and endurance,” Krishan said.

“The hand injury was also bothering me for a quite a while but I have got a grip on that too. So things are looking bright. I used to sometimes deflate after the first round but that’s no longer the case, I am in a good space,” added the boxer, who is currently training with former teammate Jay Patil.

Along with Vikas, Amit Panghal (49 kg) claimed a gold medal, rounding off India’s best ever performance at the tournament. India ended with a whopping 11 medals – five from men and six from women boxers.

In all, the contingent clinched two gold, three silver and six bronze medals. “I beat some good opponents in the run-up to the final and that is a massive boost for my confidence,” Krishan said.

The former Asian Games gold medal winner, who is also a world championships bronze-medallist, said he also cleared some mental cobwebs to get back in form. “I read a quote by a chess player a few days back in which he said ‘I started winning after I realised that even my opponent is as scared of losing as I am’. I liked it, in fact it helped me in understanding that it’s no big deal to be anxious before a fight,” he said.

“Now if my rival is as anxious as I am, I can certainly capitalise on that, which I did in this tournament,” he added.

Finishing with silver medals were legend Mary Kom (48 kg), who got a raw deal in the final, Seema Poonia (+81kg) and Gaurav Solanki (52 kg). The bronze medal winners among the women were Meena Kumari Devi (54 kg), L Sarita Devi (60 kg), Saweety Boora (75 kg) and Bhagyabati Kachari (81 kg).

Among the men, last edition’s silver-medallist Mohammed Hussamuddin (56 kg), and former Asian Games bronze-medallist Satish Kumar (+91 kg) ended in third position.

(With inputs from PTI)