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American wrestlers shake hands with Iranian president

Feb 22, 2013, 7:30 PM EDT

Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

Members of the U.S. wrestling team shook hands and took pictures with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an awards ceremony on Friday, after they finished third in a tournament in Tehran.

The American and Iranian wrestling teams, which were in Iran’s capital to compete in a freestyle wrestling World Cup event, are fighting “arm-in-arm” for the survival of their sport after it was recommended to be removed from the 2020 Olympics schedule by the IOC in a vote last week during an executive board meeting.

The cooperation between the nations is being compared to the famous “Ping-pong Diplomacy” of the early-1970s, when U.S. and Chinese players competed against one another in friendly tournaments that many believe paved the way for then President Nixon to visit Beijing.

The U.S. and Iran have had poor diplomatic relations since 1979 Islamic Revolution, when protestors stormed the American embassy and held 52 people hostage for 444 days.

Iran ended up finishing first in the team event Friday, beating Russia in the finals, while Americans Jordan Burroughs, Obenson Blanc, Joseph Kennedy, Harold Metcalf, John Askren, Tervel Dlagnev, and James Bergman scored a 6-1 record against Belarus to take the bronze.

  1. gmk17 - Feb 23, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    The thought of removing wrestling from the olympics is bizarre to say the least. It is nice to see our two countries to find common ground on something even if it is not something political.

  2. bobhamiltonchicago - Feb 23, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    This headline should not be about the wrestlers shaking his hand, it should be about how the two countries acted graciously towards each other during this match..

  3. njersey5389 - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    How ironic that the 1980 US Olympic Wrestlers were denied a chance to compete because Carter boycotted the games due to the Iranian takeover of the US embassy.

  4. mdth0mas - Feb 23, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    Sorry njersey5389: The United State’s1980 boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics was a part of a package of actions initiated by the United States to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    It had nothing to do with Iran….

  5. dirtydrew - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    The fact wrestling, an original Olympic sport, the truest form of one on one competition is out while badminton (sp?) is in , is crazy. This is the real problem with the made for tv, full of fluff and “human interest” stories that is killing the games. It is tape delayed on the west coast, so when it comes on, we already know the results. DUH…

  6. urbo1 - Feb 23, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    Maybe if we can teach the UN nuclear negotiators to wrestle, it would be a meaningful event.

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