Olympic gold medalist and four-time World champion Jordan Burroughs is arguably one of the most popular wrestlers in the world and certainly a fan-favorite in Iran.
According to a report from Iran Sports Press, Burroughs is in negotiations to wrestle for Iranian club Bimeh Razi at the upcoming World Wrestling Clubs Cup on Dec. 7-8.
According to Mehrabi, the Iranian team has reached an initial agreement with the American wrestler.
“We hope that Burroughs will represent Bimeh Razi in the World Wrestling Clubs Cup. Burroughs likes Iran very well and we are sure that he will receive a warm welcome when he arrives in our country,” Mehrabi told the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA).
The 29 year-old, New Jersey born Burroughs is no stranger to Iran. He competed earlier this year in the ‘2017 Wrestling World Cup’ which was hosted in the city of Kermanshah. Upon his arrival Burroughs received a superstar’s welcome in the wrestling-crazed country, swarmed by fans seeking selfies and autographs.
I’ve been to Iran twice now, and I can honestly say they are some of the kindest, most hospitable people in the world.
In an interview with GQ, Burroughs was asked about Iran winning this year’s wrestling World Cup, why Iran consistently produces some of the world’s best wrestlers and the country’s fervent enthusiasm for the sport:
“It’s interesting, because on a personal level, after seven years on the international stage, I’ve never lost to an Iranian wrestler. But don’t get me wrong: As a team, they are always the best. This was my fifth World Cup, and in each of those competitions, we were beat by the Iranians. It just shows how high of a level those guys are consistently wrestling. Above all else, they are extremely athletic, disciplined, and know how to maintain great positioning throughout a match.
Other than the U.S., they’re the only other country that I’ve felt their love for sports is interwoven with their national identity. For Americans, of course, it’s football, basketball, and baseball. We live for it. In many ways, it sums up who we are. In Iran, it’s all about wrestling. The patriotism toward their country comes out in the way they wrestle, so it makes sense why they’re the best.”
Should Burroughs sign on to wrestle for Bimeh Razi, the transition to a new culture and teammates will be made easier thanks to fellow wrestler Masoud Esmaeilpour, whom Burroughs considers a friend. “We send each other messages from time to time on Instagram, checking in to see how the other is doing. Whenever I see him, he’s always a gentleman, giving me tips about my next opponent. There is a tremendous amount of respect in our friendship.”
— USA Wrestling (@USAWrestling) February 16, 2017
At a time when President Trump incessantly fans the flames of Iranophobia, such sports exchanges between the two nations help humanize the Iranian people and dispel negative stereotypes. Asked about the portrayal of Iranians here in the U.S., Burroughs responded with:
“I’ve been to Iran twice now, and I can honestly say they are some of the kindest, most hospitable people in the world. It’s such an old culture, and I feel like I’m just starting to learn more about it. I’d say that the way the Iranian people are portrayed in the media, and in movies, is simply false. It’s not representative of who they are as individuals. And that level of awareness is not possible unless you travel there and experience it for yourself. If you do that, if you see for yourself what it means to be Iranian, I promise you your mind will be changed.”