Sport in Iran: Wikis


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Many sports are practiced in Iran, both traditional and modern. Tehran, for example, was the first city in the Middle East to host the Asian Games in 1974, and continues to host and participate in major international sporting events to this day. Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Iran's national sport, however today, the most popular sport in Iran is football (soccer)



Sports and athletic exercises were among the most fundamental daily pursuits of the people in ancient Iran.

The society attached special status to sportsmen who thanks to their physical strength and courage, defended their family and homeland when the need arose.

They were welcomed everywhere with much enthusiasm, the people took much pride in their sportsmen and praised and admired them for their courageous deeds.

According to their religious teaching, the Iranian Zoroastrians in their prayers sought first the beauties of heaven and then physical strength and mental power. They believed in a healthy and powerful body.

The ancient Iranians attached spiritual meaning to their spoils activities which they modeled on their weapons. Even the Mages (religious sages) while engaging in prayers in their temples held a mace in their hands, not unlike the British bishops who hung swords on their belts.

Avesta, the sacred book of the ancient religions of Iran glorifies the champions and sportsmen as much, if not more than saints and men of God. The older generation made arrangements for the ancient narratives and epics to be read to the young either from books or from those who had learned them from their elders.

This tradition has survived until today and outlived the rest of ages. Thus, even today, it can be observed that among the tribes and in the tea- houses storytelling is practiced with the same enthusiasm as it was in bygone ages.

The extent to which the Iranians were interested in their heroes and champions is revealed, among other things, by the fact that in the Persian language there are over 30 words to label the concept of a hero or champion.

In ancient Iran, youths under 24 years of age received thorough training in the sport of their time which included miming, horsemanship, polo, dart throwing, wrestling, boxing, archery, fencing, etc. They were taught under conditions of severe hardship so that when the need arose they could endure the adverse conditions of war such as hunger, thirst, fatigue, heat, cold, etc.

Traditional sports



Bodybuilding is very popular with the younger generation. Some professional bodybuilders of Iranian descent include Javad Nabavi, Mohamad Farokh and Hamid Manafi ("Arnold" of Fallah)!


Wrestling has a very long tradition and history in Iran and often even referred to as its national sport. There are many styles of folk wrestling, from Varzesh-e Pahlavani to Zurkhaneh which have similarities with modern freestyle wrestling.

Both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, particularly freestyle, are popular in Iran. mazandaran is the main power in the country and wrestling is part of its culture. Tehran, Kermanshah, Khorasan and Hamedan also produce many talented wrestlers.

With a history of great wrestlers, such as Gholamreza Takhti (four time champion at freestyle wrestling World Championships: 1959, 1963, 1998 and 2002), Iran is considered among the elite nations in this sport.


A polo scene in old Persia, depicted by Hossein Behzad.

It is believed that Polo first originated in Persia ages ago. The poet Firdowsi described royal polo tournaments in his 9th century epic, the Shahnameh. Polo competitions are the subject of many traditional paintings in Iran.

Despite the emphasis in Islam on learning the equestrian arts, in modern times, especially after the 1979 Iranian revolution, the equestrian sports fell out of favor in Iran, as they were associated with the aristocracy. And yet recent signs suggest that it may be witnessing a comeback[1] with renewed interest in the sport.[2]

Horse racing is a very popular sport between Turkmens of Iran, and there are two great Gimnasium of horse racing at Gonbad-e Qabus and Bandar Torkaman. Competitions are not international and not broadcasted but considerable prizes are given to winners. lottery only for Horse racing (and archery) is not prohibited in islam.

Board games


Backgammon is a game that has had a following in Persia since ancient times.[3] Like Chess and some card games, it fell out of official favor after the revolution. However, this did not diminish its popularity with the general population. In recent years, restrictions on the game have been softened, but tournaments have yet to be officially sanctioned. And that is why backgammon is considered a traditional sport. The oldest backgammon in the world along with 60 pieces has been unearthed in southeastern Iran.[4]


The origin of chess is a disputed issue, but evidence exists to give credence to the theory that chess originated in Persia, and later found its way into the Indian subcontinent. For example, the earliest recorder history of chess is to be found in Persian writing, and the earliest chess pieces found also being from Persian. All of this evidence lends weight to the theory that chess in Persia (Shatranj) pre-dated chess in India (Chatrang). Chess later spread from Persia into other nations in the Islamic world.

Popular sports


Azadi Football Stadium is the biggest venue for Iranian football (soccer). Its also the world's 4th largest soccer stadium.

Football (soccer) is by far the most popular sport in Iran. Iran has been able to reach the FIFA World Cup three times (1978, 1998 and 2006), has won AFC Asian Cup three times (1968 AFC Asian Cup, 1972 AFC Asian Cup and 1976 AFC Asian Cup) and four times has reached to gold medal at Asian Games (1974, 1990, 1998 and 2002).

Particularly in the past 10 years, with the launch of Iran's Premier Football League, considerable progress has been made. some Iranian players now play in major European leagues, and some Iranian clubs have hired European players or coaches.

Iranian clubs (Esteghlal and Pas) three times win Asian Club Championship (1970, 1991, 1993), but last championship of an Iranian team at AFC Champions League dated back to 1992-3 season.

Like all other sports, adequate football facilities are limited in Iran. Iran's largest football stadium is the Azadi Stadium with a seating capacity of 90,000. Home Stadium of Esteghlal and Perspolis (Most Popular Iranian Clubs) and where that national matches are held.


Strength sports like Weightlifting, Powerlifting and Bodybuilding have always held favor among Iranians and with the recent success of world record-holding super-heavyweight lifter Hossein Reza Zadeh, or with IFBB pro King Kamali, the sport has been returned to a rather high status.


Dizin on a sunny day
Dizin skiing resort, Iran
Gondola lift carry skiers and other visitors to Tochal mountain near Tehran.

Iran is home to numerous mountainous regions, many of which are suitable for skiing, and are gaining increasing popularity among foreign visitors.[5]

Skiing began in Iran in 1938 through the efforts of two German railway engineers. Today, 13 ski resorts operate in Iran,[6] the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak. All are within one to three hours traveling time of Tehran. Potentially suitable terrain can also be found in Lorestan, Mazandaran, and other provinces.

The Tochal resort is the world's fifth-highest ski resort at over 3,730 m at its highest 7th station. The resort was completed in 1976 shortly before the overthrow of the Shah. It is only a mere 15 minutes away from Tehran's northern districts, and operates 7 months a year. Here, one must first ride the 8 km (5 mile) long gondola lift which covers a huge vertical. The 7th station has three slopes. The resort's longest slope is the south side U shaped slope which goes from the 7th station to 5th station. The other two slopes are located on the north side of the 7th station. Here, there are two parallel chair ski lifts that go up to 3900 m near Tochal's peak (at 4,000 m), rising higher than the gondola 7th station station. This altitude is said to be higher than any of the European resorts.

From the Tochal peak, one has a spectacular view of the Alborz range, including the 5,671 metre (18,606 ft) high Mount Damavand, a dormant volcano.

At the bottom of the lifts in a valley behind the Tochal peak is Tochal hotel, located at 3500 m altitude. From there a T lift takes skiers up the 3,800 metres of Shahneshin peak, where the third slope of Tochal is.

Hiking, and climbing sports

Hikers flock to trails like Tangeh Savashi which leads to several waterfalls in a remote part of the Alborz range.

Due to the wealth of mountains, climbing sports are widely popular in Iran. Both the Zagros and Alborz ranges provide plenty of opportunities for the novice and advanced alike.

Hiking and Trekking enthusiasts find opportunities in locations like Alamut and Tangeh Savashi to enjoy the rustic surroundings as well as a relatively challenging climb.

Martial Arts

Martial arts have gained popularity in Iran in the past 20 years. Kyokushin, Shotokan, Wushu, and Taekwondo are the most popular. One can find dojos from almost every martial arts style in Iran, with large numbers of followers. The Kung Fu To'a originated in Iran, though banned after the Iranian Revolution.


In basketball, Iran has a national team, and a professional league, with competitive players in Asia. The clubs have begun hiring foreign players and coaches into their roster. The national team participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, finishing 1-3. They competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, thanks to their gold medal in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship, their first ever continental crown. The first ever Iranian NBA-player is Hamed Haddadi and he plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.


In volleyball, Iran has a national team, and a professional league. The Iran national volleyball team is among the strongest teams in Asia, and the Iranian Youth and Junior (Under-19 and Under-21) national teams are among the top 3 strongest teams in the world, winning medals in Boys' U19 Volleyball World Championship and Men's U21 Volleyball World Championship in recent years. In the 2007 Men's U21 Volleyball World Championship, the Iranians were successful at earning a Bronze medal. Also, in late August 2007, the Iran national under-19 volleyball team surprised many by winning the gold medal in the Volleyball World Championship in Mexico after beating France and China in the semi-finals and finals respectively and marking the first such international gold medal for an Iranian team sport.


Futsal are very Practitioners both at amateur and professional level, Partly Because of laking suitable soccer fields. Iran has a strong national team that presently is fourth strongest national team after Brazil, Spain and Italy according to fifa Ranking[7].

This team has won the Asian Futsal Championship for nine times out of the ten times held and reach five times to FIFA Futsal World Cup, national team. Iran also has a nationwide Super Futsal League.


The tennis entertainer Mansour Bahrami is Iranian, as well as his tennis partner Ramin Raziyani.


Another popular sport in Iran is rallying. Female drivers have been allowed to participate in national rally tournaments, including Iran's successful female driver Laleh Seddigh.

Attendance at sporting events

Since the 1979 revolution, though never explicitly declared in the law, women were barred from attending football matches. In April 2006, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speculated about allowing women back into the stadiums.[8] It is uncertain if this measure would gain approval, since many hard-line clerics have voiced their opposition.[9] However, women are generally free to attend indoor sports events.



See also

External links


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