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Martial Arts Expert Leaves Iran Rather Than Train Basij


Iranian kick boxer Ahmad Fouladizadeh

Iranian kick boxer Ahmad Fouladizadeh

Iranian martial arts expert Ahmad Fouladizadeh says he has left the country rather than agree to train Basij volunteer paramilitaries and plainclothes police how to neutralize participants in street protests, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Fouladizadeh (aka Fouladi) told Radio Farda from Sweden that he has applied for political asylum there.

He said that a few months ago the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRCG) asked him to serve as a trainer at a physical education club belonging to the IRGC in the southwestern city of Shiraz.

Fouladizadeh, who became a member of Iran's national kickboxing team in 1998, said at first he thought he was supposed to provide training courses for young people interested in sports. But he said he was told at a private session with members of various Iranian sports teams that the objective was to train the Basij and plainclothes forces to fight with people during future unrest.

Fouladizadeh said that he and fellow sportsmen from Iran's national track and field, karate, boxing, wrestling, and judo teams were asked to train 300 people in each province in some 10 sports.

Fouladizadeh said he could not participate in the process of "training gladiators" to confront the Iranian people.

"I'm an athlete…I cannot betray my own people," he said.
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