Unhappy Iran wrestler admits he was told to lose match to avoid facing Israeli
search
'My whole world seemed to come to an end'

Unhappy Iran wrestler admits he was told to lose match to avoid facing Israeli

Ali Reza Karimi says upon being ordered to throw bout, ‘my whole world seemed to come to an end’

This file photo taken on August 20, 2016 shows USA's J'den Michael Tbory Cox (red) wrestling with Iran's Ali Reza Karimi during a match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
This file photo taken on August 20, 2016 shows USA's J'den Michael Tbory Cox (red) wrestling with Iran's Ali Reza Karimi during a match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian wrestler said his managers told him to intentionally lose to a Russian competitor to avoid facing an Israeli wrestler in the next round.

Ali Reza Karimi told the semi-official ISNA news agency late on Monday that only one minute before the end of a Sunday round of the U-23 World Championship in Poland his coaches told him to throw the match to avoid facing an Israeli wrestler.

“In a moment, my whole world seemed to come to an end,” he said.

Israel and Iran are bitter adversaries and Iranian athletes traditionally refrain from competing against Israelis. Iran’s government usually rewards such behavior.

Karimi told ISNA that he was beating Russian Alikhan Zhabrailov when coaches told him to lose.

“I tried hard for months to get the world gold medal,” he said. “Achieving a world medal is the only happiness for any of us.”

A statement from Iran’s sport ministry praised Karimi for supporting “human values.”

Iran has had a long-time policy of avoiding Israelis in athletic competitions, frequently at the expense of its own competitors. An Iranian swimmer refused to enter the same pool as an Israeli at the Beijing Olympics and in the 2004 Athens Games, an Iranian judoka refused to face an Israeli, resulting in his disqualification.

The last competition between Iranian and Israeli teams on the international level dates back to a wrestling match in 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine.

Occasionally, Iranian players who play for foreign teams have played Israeli teams. In August, Tehran criticized two Iranian soccer players who play for a Greek team for participating in a match against an Israeli team.

Iran does not recognize Israel, and supports anti-Israeli terrorist groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments