The Plight of Iranians under their current regime was made very clear to some of the competitors of a Strong Man contest in Iran. Most of the competitors were from Northern European Countries including Arild Haugen and Svend Karlsen (for those who follow strength sports, BIG names).
”Two nice girls wanted a photo with me,” Arild Haugen said, “so I lifted them up. The police grabbed the girls and put them straight in jail.” None of the competitors were arrested, but Haugen was told that he had to copy in his own writing and then sign an apology that the contest organizer had written, which was then going to be delivered to the police, and he had to sign it “Arild Stupid Haugen.” Asked if he was afraid that he might be arrested, too, Haugen said that he expected to be arrested, but he was never afraid: “I knew they wouldn’t kill me,” he said.
Not everyone had this confidence, because an Iranian citizen who had been talking to the competitors, and not saying the most favorable things about the current regime, received a phone call saying that he was about to be arrested. The man reportedly started crying and he told the competitors that he expected to be killed. A number of the competitors gave the man their business cards and offered to do whatever they could to help him.
It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least, for competitors who had never been to Iran before and there was a feeling that the very fact that the Iranian people were enjoying the contest and having a good time set the stage for the quick and harsh police reaction – a competitor who danced was reportedly censured, and another, who held a baby, was also reprimanded, because the baby was a girl. Competitors were approached by Iranian citizens who begged, “Please tell the world we need help,” and the police and government were described as “crazy.”
Svend Karlsen, President of Pro Strongman – Norway, told IronMind that as a result of this, “No Norweigan athletes will compete in Iran.”
(Photo is of Phil Pfister)