Boxing: an Iranian fighter cancels the return to her home after the arrest warrant issued

PARIS: The first Iranian woman to oppose an official boxing fight canceled plans to return home after an arrest warrant was issued in Tehran, her representative said on Wednesday when Iranian authorities issued a denial.

Sadaf Khadem beat a French boxer, Anne Chauvin, in the fight, which took place in western France on Saturday.

His representative, Clara Dallay, told Reuters that the authorities had issued arrest warrants against him and the organizer of the Mahyar Monshipour fight.

Monshipour, a former world boxing champion born in Iran who is now a French citizen, organized the fight after Iran opened the door to allow women to box.

Hossein Soori, the head of the Iranian boxing federation, denied that Khadem was arrested, and attributed the information to "media linked to Saudi Arabia."

"Mrs. Khadem is not a member of organized (Iranian) athletes for boxing, and from the perspective of the boxing federation, all her activities are personal," said the semi-official news agency ISNA.

The participation of Iranian women in sporting events is very restricted, although the authorities are beginning to give ground in some areas after years of campaigning by pressure groups.

The federation now allows women to register in the box, provided they are trained by a woman and wear the Islamic hijab while competing. To date, there have been no fighting between women combatants in Iran.

Monshipour planned to travel back to Iran with Khadem this week.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France could not comment immediately on the case.

Franco-Iranian relations are in a tense phase after comments by France's ambbadador to the United States last week about Iran's nuclear program provoked an angry reaction in Tehran.

(Report by Julien Pretot, additional report by John Irish in Paris and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, written by John Stonestreet, Edited in Spanish by Toby Chopra)

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