IBA President Umar Kremlev of Russia opened the Strandja Tournament during his visit to Bulgaria ©IBA

The International Boxing Association (IBA) President Umar Kremlev has met with Bulgaria's Minister of Youth and Sports of Bulgaria Radostin Vasilev in Sofia to discuss the sport's development in the country.

Russian official Kremlev also opened the Strandja Tournament in the country's capital with his Bulgarian Boxing Federation counterpart Krasimir Ininski yesterday.

During his meeting with Vasilev, Kremlev discussed ongoing cooperation between the two entities, ways to improve financial support for boxing and integrating modern technologies into the promotion of the sport.

The Strandja Tournament claims to be the oldest international tournament in amateur boxing held in Europe and is due to run until Sunday (February 27).

More than 350 boxers from 36 countries are taking part at its 73rd edition.

Kremlev paid tribute to the Bulgarian Government for its support of the event.

"Thank you for your efforts to make sport fair and transparent," the IBA President said.

"Today, it’s a highly important issue for every sport and boxing in particular.

"As you know, IBA is underway of important reforms including sports and financial integrity which should be completed this year.

"We are going to create equal opportunities for boxers all around the world.

"Because of that, the support of such significant international events as Strandja is our priority."

Vasilev claimed that the tournament represented an example of the Government backing boxing.

"Strandja is one of the major and historical tournaments for boxing in the Balkans," he insisted.

"I am proud that it is conducted here in Sofia.

"We are proud of our champions from Bulgaria and will give our best efforts to popularize boxing and other sports with Government support.

Ininski added: "I thank IBA President for the vote of confidence that the Strandja Tournament will be the first testing 'Golden Belt Series' tournament as a part of soon-to-establish IBA World Boxing Tour," he commented.

"This is a testament to our good work and efforts.

"I wish all participants to give their best and together make the competition even more successful."

Kremlev was elected as IBA President in December 2020 on a vow to wipe out the organisation's debts and restore its place at the Olympic Games, after it was striped of any involvement at Tokyo 2020 due to concerns over refereeing, judging and governance.

A series of governance reforms were approved at last year's Extraordinary Congress, including a change in the organisation's acronym from AIBA.

However, boxing has been left off the initial programme from Los Angeles 2028, with a deadline of 2023 in place for IBA to meet certain criteria set by the International Olympic Committee.