Alireza Karimi in the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Wikicommons) (Wikicommons)
Alireza Karimi

The UWW’s legal and ethics committees will review whether an Iranian wrestler intentionally threw a match to avoid facing an Israeli.

Wrestling’s governing body is investigating whether an Iranian intentionally threw a match to avoid facing an Israeli.

United World Wrestling (UWW) announced Friday that it is looking into irregularities surrounding a first-round match between Ali Reza Karimi of Iran and Alikhan Zhabrailov of Russia at the recent U-23 World Championships in Poland.

The international federation says several news outlets reported that Karimi was directed by his coaches Saturday to intentionally lose because Israel’s Uri Kalashnikov would have been Karimi’s second-round opponent.

UWW says its legal and ethics committees will review the matter in the coming weeks and make recommendations to the organization’s administrating body.

The Iranian government was quick to praise Karimi-Mashiani.

“Your noble and heroic action in the world competition in Poland, abandoning the medal and the podium in support of the highest human values, is a source of pride and praise,” said a statement on the website of Iran’s Ministry of Sport and Youth.

Karimi told the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency that he was “told that the Israeli wrestler defeated his American rival, and that I must lose to avoid facing an Israeli opponent,” adding, “in a moment, my whole world seemed to come to an end.”

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

Iran, which calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, has long refused to engage in sports competitions against Israelis.

For years, Israeli athletes have faced boycotts, snubs and logistical hurdles in sporting events involving Arab and Muslim countries.

In February, Iranian karate athlete Majid Hassaninia refused to compete against an Israeli opponent at the 21st Open de Paris – Karate Premier League in France.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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