On February 17, Iran’s national wrestling team beat the U.S. team 5-3 to take the gold in the World Cup freestyle championship. The match was held in Kermanshah, Iran. Just weeks before the competition, the Americans thought they might not be able to attend. The Islamic Republic vowed reciprocation after President Donald Trump issued a visa ban for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran. But after the courts put a pause on the controversial executive order, Iran granted visas to the wrestlers.
Despite tensions between their governments, the American and Iranian wrestling organizations have developed a unique relationship over the past two decades. U.S. participation in Iran’s 1998 Takhti Cup marked the first visit by an American sports team since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The team has now made some 16 visits to Iran. The following is a selection of pictures and videos from the most recent trip.