Iranian Wrestler Says Managers Forced Him to Lose to Avoid Facing Israeli

Ali Reza Karimi says he was beating Russian Alikhan Zhabrailov when coaches told him to lose: 'In a moment, my whole world seemed to come to an end'

J'den Michael Tbory Cox (U.S.) wrestles with Alireza Mohammad Karimimachiani (Iran) during the wrestling event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro.
JACK GUEZ/AFP

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 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.

He says: "In a moment, my whole world seemed to come to an end."
Israel and Iran are bitter adversaries and Iranian athletes traditionally refrain from competing against Israelis. Iran's government usually rewards such behavior.

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

Iran's sport ministry in a statement praised Karimi for supporting "human values."