Iranian Wrestler Deliberately Loses Match To Avoid Israeli Opponent

“In a moment, my whole world seemed to come to an end,” recalled Iranian wrestler Alireza Karimi-Machiani.


Since Iran does not recognize Israel as a state, it has forbidden its athletes from facing off against Israelis at international sports events. The players are instructed to feign sickness if it comes to that and in case that does not work, they are supposed to outright forfeit the match, hurting no one but themselves and their fans in the process.

Popular freestyle Iranian wrestler Alireza Karimi-Machiani, who won a bronze medal in the 2015 World Championships, recently became an unfortunate victim of this hardline policy.

The wrester was close to crushing his Russian opponent Alikhan Zhabrailov at the Senior U23 World Championship in Poland when something unexpected happen: He suddenly fell on the mat and allowed (a seemingly surprised) Zhabrailov to drag him around.

Karimi-Machiani was not injured. Instead, he was reportedly following instructions and throwing the match because otherwise, he would have fought Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov in the next round.

Clips of the game making rounds on social media show a brief interaction between Karimi-Machiani and his coach right before a voice can be heard yelling, “Lose, Alireza” and “You have to lose” in Farsi, according to Euro News.

“I was told that the Israeli wrestler defeated his American rival, and that I must lose to avoid facing an Israeli opponent. I have trained hard for months to win a gold medal, and it was easy for me to win,” Karimi-Machiani said in an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency. “I do accept that Israel is an oppressor and commits crimes. But would it not be oppression if our authorities undermine my hard work again?”

In a separate interview, he also recalled the moment he was reportedly told to lose.

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

Fans were obviously not happy with the outcome.

While some criticized the government for its stringent approach, others called out the wrestler for not refuting his coach’s order to forfeit.







“I feel that Alireza Karimi's trainer intentionally shouted 'Alireza lose,' 'you need to lose,' 'you must lose.' This was a sign for us to see the dirty people behind the curtain of his defeat. We needed to see how the dirty politics of a group of dirty people caused your efforts to be blown away with the wind.”

After losing the match, Karimi-Machiani posted a video on Instagram of him walking through the city while listening to a song by Iranian singer Dariush Eqbali, which says, “The last bunker is silence, our right cannot be taken away, even if you take away its sky, this bird won’t die.”


????? ???? ????? ?? ?? ?? ??? ??? ?????? ????. @deghbali

A post shared by @alirezakarimi_94 on


While a number of activists have raised their voices against Iran’s ban to compete against Israeli athletes, arguing the move is only hurting Iranians and their sentiments, some — including The Iranian Wrestling Federation — do not seem to have a problem with it at all.

“Dear Alireza, maybe today those who, as responsible, should be most grateful for your sacrifice… The people who need to see and understand sacrifice, and appreciate your patience, they see you and they are with you,” the organization said in a statement. “Alireza Karimi, your iniquity is unforgettable for the great family of Iran.”

Thumbnail / Banner : Pixabay, Skitterphoto

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