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Khuzestan First Region In Iran To Officially Ban Women's Boxing

Iranian boxer Sadaf Khadem won the fight against French boxer Anne Chauvin during an official boxing bout in Royan, France, April 13, 2019. hoto from Instagram page.

Khuzestan has become the first region in Iran to officially ban women's boxing despite the Olympic Committee's demand to eliminate gender discrimination.

"Any activity in the women's boxing is prohibited in the province", the head of Khuzestan's Boxing Board, Hamid Zanganehmanesh announced on Sunday, May 31.

Speaking to the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) Zanganehmanesh referred to a letter from the president of the Islamic Republic Boxing Federation that has banned all women's boxing activities.

Without elaborating on the content of the letter, Zanganehmanesh reiterated that women's boxing activities, including coaching, training, and even holding theory classes, is prohibited.

Zanganehmanesh also warned that male coaches are not allowed to train women and will personally be responsible for the consequences if they do.

Under an unwritten law, Iranian women were banned for years from participating in boxing. Recently, the federation allowed Iranian women to register to box, provided they be coached by a female trainer, and wear the Islamic hijab while competing. However, no public bouts between female fighters have so far taken place in Iran.

In April 2019, twenty-four-year-old Sadaf Khadem was awarded a boxing license in France where she currently trains, making her Iran's first woman to take part in an official boxing match and won against a French boxer. Her victory attracted Iranian women to boxing, always considered as a male-only sport in the Islamic Republic.

International sports bodies have repeatedly accused the clergy-dominated Iran of discrimination against female athletes, as well as preventing women from riding bicycles and attending football stadiums to watch the games.

So far the Islamic Republic has tried to avoid the Olympic committee's demand to eliminate gender discrimination in sports or face having male athletes banned from competition.

Pressures on Iranian athletes, both male and female, have forced dozens of them in recent months to defect and compete under other flags.