On Saturday, 24-year-old Sadaf Khadem became the first Iranian woman to compete in an official boxing match, defeating French boxer Anne Chauvin in an amateur match in Royan, France.
But she barely had time to savor her historic victory. On Wednesday, the young fighter was abruptly forced to cancel her return flight home to Tehran after learning that authorities there had issued an arrest warrant for her and her coach, Iranian-born former boxing world champion Mahyar Monshipour.
Khadem had traveled to France with Monshipour, who has duel French-Iranian citizenship, to train despite the Iran Boxing Federation’s policy that women boxers may only train with other women. The Iranian boxing authority also unilaterally bars women from competing in official matches. Ahead of her bout with Chauvin, Khadem had told Now This that she been “dreaming of my first fight” for a long time.
“I hope I can also achieve the dream of making it the best match possible,” she had said. “I hope that this fight will lead to more matches and that I will go as far as I can with the plans that I have in mind and to reach the highest levels in boxing and make a name for myself as a boxer.”
Asked by Now This about Iran’s policy barring women from competing in boxing, Khadem had said that “there are limitations that apply in each and every country” and that “there are some good things about Iran and there are some not so good.”
Her coach, meanwhile, had said that he was almost as excited as Khadem to see her fight.
“It’s historic,” Monshipour told AFP. “I often say it: In 100 years we will say that in Royan, Sadaf Khadem was the first Iranian women to compete in an official match. It’s as simple as that.”