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Iranian wrestling or Koshti (Persian: کشتی, romanized: koshti) is a form of submission grappling that has been practiced since ancient times in Iran. A form today is koshti pahlavani practiced in the zurkhaneh. while regional variations differ from one province to another. Olympic freestyle wrestling is often referred to as the "first sport" of Iran.
Wrestling in Iran, like weightlifting, can be traced to the ancient Persian sport of Varzesh-e-Bastani, which translates to "ancient sport." Traditionally the sport was seen as a way to promote "inner strength through outer strength." Those involved were meant to embody kindness and humility, while defending the society from "sinfulness."
This practice has survived into the modern era through various attempts to downplay the pre-Islamic roots of the country. It made the transition from the Pahlavi shah's efforts to modernise the country and through the transition of the 1979 Revolution.
Interactions with the U.S.
After his election in 1997, President Mohammad Khatami saw the connection that the U.S. and Iran had with wrestling as a possible way to reopen diplomatic relations after nearly two decades. This was an Iranian take on Nixon-era "ping pong" diplomacy with China.
In Feb. 2017 Iran planned on denying visas to U.S. wrestlers for the Freestyle World Cup. This was done in response to President Trump's travel ban to seven Muslim majority countries. The decision to bar U.S. participants was eventually overturned by Iranian officials after a U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked Trump's ban on Iranians traveling to the U.S.
One professional wrestling promotion that operates in Iran is the Iran Wrestling Group (IWG). The promotion was founded in 2009. They have run shows including "IWG First War" and "IWG Lord of the Ring."
Professional wrestler Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri was born in Tehran, Iran March 14, 1942. He has wrestled globally under the name The Iron Sheik.
Notable styles of Iranian wrestling
- Koshti Pahlavani, literally "heroic wrestling" (practiced throughout Iran)
- Tourkamani style or Kurash (Golestan Province)
- Fisher, Max (2012-08-09). "The Ancient Roots of Iran's Wrestling and Weightlifting Olympic Dominance". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
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- Mostaghim, Shashank Bengali, Ramin (5 February 2017). "Iran changes its mind, says it will allow U.S. wrestlers after judge blocks Trump travel ban". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2019-05-10.
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- Documentary video of Iranian wrestling conditioning
- Iran Wrestling parstimes.com
- Amateur Wrestling Federation of the I.R. Iran