What if Wrestling is dropped from the Olympics?

A scenario which until recently was considered unthinkable—excluding a sport that has forever been such an integral part of the modern day Olympics—has since the recent decision by the International Olympic Committee, become a reality, and the focus of Pahlavan, the documentary. A sport so rich in history, so diverse and inclusive in its participation, is facing its biggest challenge yet, to potentially be relegated from the competition that for most wrestlers, is the pinnacle of their sport.

Pahlavan is the name of a documentary film that wants to tell wrestling’s story. Wrestling is a sport that unites people from such diverse nations, that in some cases, are completely at odds with each other. The relationship between America and Iran is the perfect example of this, politically it has completely broken down, but in the wrestling arena, the two nations are as united as ever, particularly now that wrestling’s future is in question, so much so that the Americans have invited the Iranians to America to a specially set up friendly wrestling tournament to showcase wrestling’s uniting power to the world.

Pahlavan will follow three broad story arcs. The historic event of the Takhti Cup in 1998 where the US sent their first delegation to Iran after almost two decades of a diplomatic standstill and the wrestling tournament last May, in New York between Iran and America. The final and concluding story arc will be about the upcoming IOC decision to drop wrestling from the Olympics. The decision has gained widespread media attention in addition to a grassroots campaign gaining significant traction on social media sites and among wrestling enthusiasts.

Pahlavan wants to show that wrestling is not only a sport that is accessible to anyone, regardless of background or nationality, but a vessel for sports diplomacy, and that this sport can achieve something traditional diplomacy fails at. The word Pahlavan roughly translates to “hero” or “champion” in Persian. It is often used as an affectionate term for wrestlers in Iran, because the word doesn’t just describe a person of great physical strength but also one with spiritual fortitude and a moral code of honour, a true embodiment of the Olympic spirit.