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Iran's National Wrestling Team Defeats U.S. To Win Freestyle World Cup


Iranian wrestlers celebrate winning the Freestyle World Cup on home soil on February 17.

The Iranian national wrestling team has defeated the U.S. squad in the finals of the Freestyle World Cup in Iran, giving the hosts the gold medal in a match that almost did not take place because of global political tensions.

In the tournament finale on February 17, Komeil Ghasemi defeated American Nick Gwiazdowski in the 125-kilo (275-pound) weight class.

Ghasemi's victory gave Iran their fifth title out of the eight weight categories in the tournament -- which took place in Iran's Kurdish-majority city of Kermanshah and was broadcast live on state TV.

This event was overshadowed by political tensions between Tehran and Washington, which have increased since U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

The 13 wrestlers from the U.S. team were initially denied visas to compete after Trump set a temporary ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran.

They eventually were allowed entry after Trump's travel ban was put on hold by a U.S. federal court ruling.

American wrestler Jordan Burroughs, a two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist, wrote on Instagram that he was "thankful for the warm reception" the United States team received in Iran "and even more grateful that this trip was made possible."

The U.S. wrestling team reached the final matches after defeating Russia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan in Group A of the competition.

Iran defeated Turkey, India, and Mongolia in Group B to reach the final.

Based on reporting by AP, The Washington Post, and AFP
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