Sun, 12 Jul 2020

Khuzestan has become Iran's first province to officially ban women's boxing.

'Any activity in women's boxing is prohibited in the province,' the head of Khuzestan's boxing board, Hamid Zanganehmanesh, said on May 31, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.

Referring to a recent letter from the president of the Iranian boxing federation, Zanganehmanesh said all women's boxing activities were prohibited in Khuzestan, including coaching, training, and theory classes.

He insisted that men are not allowed to train women and will bear the consequences if they do, although he did not specify the punishment for offenders.

Zanganehmanesh did not say why the boxing federation has decided to ban women's boxing in Khuzestan, a volatile and oil-rich province in southwestern Iran that is home to the majority of the country's ethnic Arabs.

Women in Iran have been unofficially banned from the sport for years.

The national federation recently allowed Iranian women to register for boxing, provided they are coached by a female trainer and wear a hijab, or head covering, while competing.

However, no public bouts between female fighters have taken place in the country so far.

In April 2019, Sadaf Khadem became the first Iranian woman to compete in an official boxing match when she defeated a French fighter in western France. Khadem, whose victory is said to have attracted many women in Iran to boxing, is now training in France.

International sports organizations have repeatedly criticized Iranian authorities for discriminating against female athletes and limiting women's participation in sporting activities.

Women in Iran are banned from cycling in public and from entering soccer stadiums to watch games.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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