The first female Iranian boxer to win an international bout will stay in France and not return home after an arrest warrant was issued against her in Tehran.
Sadaf Khadem – who competes in shorts and t-shirt with her head uncovered – and her trainer Mahyar Monshipour are currently in the French city of Poitiers, a spokesperson who requested anonymity said.
Khadem told French newspaper L’Equipe she was in a taxi on the way to Charles de Gaulle Airport when her coach, Mahyar Monshipour received information that an arrest warrant had been issued.
Monshipour, an Iranian-born former boxing world champion who is now a French citizen, set up the bout after Iran opened the door to allowing women to box.
Khadem, 24, had been due to return to Tehran, where she works as a fitness trainer, following her victory Saturday over 25-year-old Anne Chauvin of France in the western town of Royan.
Iranian women’s participation in sporting events is heavily restricted, though authorities in the Islamic republic are beginning to give ground in some areas after years of campaigning by pressure groups.
The federation now allows women to register to box, on condition that they be coached by a woman and wear the Islamic hijab while competing.
In Iran, women can be punished with a fine or even a prison sentence if they are seen in public without a headscarf, with female athletes required to cover their hair arms, legs and neck during competition.
Khadem told L’Equipe that her choice of attire for the bout could have created a stir at home.
“I did a fight in a legal framework, in France,” Khadem said.
“But as I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt … I flouted the rules of my country. I did not wear a hijab, I was coached by a man … some people [view this badly].”
“I want to improve as much as possible, go as far as possible and show other Iranian women that they can taste this sport,” Khadem had told AFP ahead of the bout.
AFP contributed to this report
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