By IMMAF.org lead writer/photographer, Jorden Curran
Over the last two years Sweden’s Anna Astvik established herself as leader of the women’s strawweight (115lb/52.1kg) division under IMMAF. This week, the reigning World and European champion was the latest international amateur standout to announce plans for a professional transition.
Astvik first represented the Swedish national team in Bulgaria at the 2017 IMMAF European Open. The 2017 Euros were indicative of earmarking the successor to Bulgaria’s Aleksandra Toncheva, whose dominant reign and grip on the division saw her claim back-to-back European titles in 2015 and 2016, in addition to ruling the 2016 World Championships. Alongside national team mate Fannie Redman, the Swedish duo progressed to face off in the tournament final with Redman taking the unanimous decision victory.
Later that year, Astvik maintained Sweden’s new found hold on the division as she claimed the 2017 IMMAF World title. The competition intensified against Ireland’s Emily Badmaev, savvy Kazakh striker Ayan Tursyn and New Zealand’s Hannah Dawson who lost out to Astvik by unanimous decision after a highly competitive finale for the gold medal.
Following her World Championships success in Bahrain, Astvik was dealt an upset in the Swedish national championships, submitting to a second round arm-bar at the hands of fresh up-and-comer Nina Back. The narrative continued as Astvik, the current world gold medalist, was joined by national champion Back in the Swedish team dispatched to Romania for the 2018 European Open.
Poetically, it was the Swedish pair who would advance to face off in the championship final. Back’s IMMAF debut was strong as she submitted Ireland’s Deirdre Fitzpatrick via arm-bar and bested perennial top contender Raluca Dinescu on the scorecards. However, it was Astvik’s blend of tenacity and composure, calling on her submission defense and well rounded skill set as she rose to the occasion and retained her place as the undisputed strawweight queen, earning a unanimous decision triumph to win the European gold medal.
In claiming continental and world titles on the amateur platform, Astvik’s service captured the attention of the Swedish mainstream media, featuring on SVT 2 with television and radio appearances. In addition to her status as the world’s number-one ranked strawweight representing the highest ranked nation, Astvik rose to the number-two position in the individual pound-for-pound rankings, within touching distance of overall points leader and countryman Irman Smajic – Sweden’s award winning IMMAF heavyweight champion whose pro debut was recently unveiled and set for December 1.
At age 27, Astvik brings a close to her amateur tenure and the story could not be written any better with former rival/team mate Nina Back taking the reigns as Sweden’s leading amateur strawweight; the promising 20-year-old is set to compete at the IMMAF-WMMAA Unified World Championships in November. Following in the footsteps of her predecessors and fellow IMMAF standouts, Astvik indicates plans for a high profile professional debut.