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Noted musicians Ali Akbar Moradi, Abbas Bakhtiari to provide entertainment before historic USA-Iran dual at L.A. Memorial Sports Arena

LOS ANGELES – Ali Akbar Moradi, the Kurdish master of the tanbur, or Kurdish lute, will join fellow Iranian virtuoso Abbas Bakhtiari to provide classical Persian music and songs honoring the traditions of wrestling on the historic meeting of the USA and Iran wrestling teams on May 19 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

Along with the vocal performance of the prominent Iranian musicians, young wrestlers from throughout Southern California – including two 9-year-old girls -- will demonstrate their abilities in a series of exhibition matches prior to the seven-match USA-Iran wrestling exhibition.

Bakhtiari has performed alongside notables like Shahram Nazeri and Hossein Alizadeh. In addition to his work with prominent Iranian musicians, Bakhtiari has entertained with musicians from Armenia, Egypt, France, Spain, Brazil and Australia. Their recording of Kurdish mystical music with Ali Akbar Moradi on tambour and Kourosh Moradi on tonbak and daf was supported by the French Ministry of Culture and the la Maison des Cultures du Monde.

Moradi, the master, started his career with Nazeri in 1981 and has performed throughout Europe and North America, including New York, San Francisco and London. British music magazine Songlines named Moradi one of the 50 Best Musicians Around the Globe. For the May 19 event, Moradi will be joined by his two sons, Arash and Kourosh, as well as talented kamancheh player Mehdi Bagheri.

There will be four youth wrestling matches: Cade Olivas, 15, of Fontana taking on Randon Miranda, 16, of Palmdale at the 90-pound class; Daniel Long, 13, of Visalia vs. Jaden Abas, 13, of Bakersfield at 95 pounds; Zander Wick, 16, of Murrieta against Zahid Valencia, 16, of Pico at 126 pounds, and 9-year-olds Patricia Arana of Pacoima and Viviana Garcia of San Fernando squaring off at 55-60 pounds.

The music/wrestling tandem brings a cultural and youthful athletic component to what is a historic event. Organized by USA Wrestling and Beat the Streets-Los Angeles, Inc. and staged in cooperation with California USA Wrestling, the USA-Iran wrestling exhibition will play a vital role toward sustaining momentum for the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement and the 2020 Vision: Wrestling, Keep the Dream Alive campaign.

Billed “United 4 Wrestling,” the USA vs. Iran dual meet will feature the current international freestyle wrestling rules. The event will be a showcase competition as part of World Wrestling Month, which was declared by the international wrestling federation (FILA).

Tickets for “United 4 Wrestling” – a friendly international wrestling competition pitting the USA and Iran at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. – are on sale at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at and by charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

LA Sports Arena box office hours are weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The LA Sports Arena box office (3939 South Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90037) is located on the south side of the arena, adjacent to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Three levels of ticket pricing are offered and start as low as $13, to $23 for mid-level seating, to $63 for seats closest to the floor.

Sponsoring the “United 4 Wrestling” event in Los Angeles is the Semnani Family Foundation, a Salt Lake City-based international humanitarian organization celebrating its 20th year of providing support to a wide range of humanitarian initiatives throughout the world. Founded by Khosrow Semnani, a prominent Iranian-American philanthropist, the foundation has worked closely with LDS humanitarian, Holy Cross Ministries, Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake City, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Faith Voices for the Common Good and others to promote religious tolerance and bridge cultural divides.

Iran has competed in wrestling in the United States 10 times in recent years, but none of those matches took place in Los Angeles, which holds the world’s largest population of those of Iranian descent outside of Iran. Iran’s latest visits to wrestle in the U.S. included the 1995 World Championships in Atlanta, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the 1998 Junior World Championships in Primm, Nev., the 1998 Goodwill Games in New York City and the 2003 World Championships in New York City. In addition, the Iranian team competed in the World Cup held in the United States five times (1995 in Chattanooga, Tenn.; 1998 in Stillwater, Okla.; 1999 in Spokane, Wash.; 2000 in Fairfax, Va. and 2001 in Baltimore, Md.).

On Feb. 12, the International Olympic Committee Executive Board made a recommendation that wrestling not be a core sport at the 2020 Olympic Games. A final decision on the program of the 2020 Olympics will be made by the entire IOC in September. A worldwide effort has been launched by FILA and all 177 nations which participate in wrestling to retain wrestling as an Olympic sport.

“United 4 Wrestling” will follow on the heels of an event Wednesday, May 15 at Vanderbilt Hall in New York’s Grand Central Terminal involving the United States, Iran and Russia, three of the world’s best wrestling nations. Since the IOC announcement, these three nations have worked closely together to help support Olympic wrestling. Although their governments do not always agree, the wrestling leaders in these nations have a strong working relationship. Sports competition between the United States and Iran has been an example of how wrestling transcends politics and cultural differences.

USA Wrestling sponsored the first American sports team to compete in Iran after an absence of nearly 20 years, when a U.S. freestyle wrestling team competed in the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran. In total, the USA has wrestled in Iran 11 times, including the historic 1998 tour.

Beat the Streets – Los Angeles cultivates youth development in underserved communities by encouraging a desire for excellence, respect, teamwork, leadership, integrity and perseverance through the instruction of quality wrestling programs. Together with public support, BTS-LA strives to enhance young men and women’s lives in school, sports and community. More information can be found at

USA Wrestling is the National Governing Body for the Sport of Wrestling in the United States and, as such, is its representative to the United States Olympic Committee and the International Wrestling Federation FILA. Simply, USA Wrestling is the central organization that coordinates amateur wrestling programs in the nation and works to create interest and participation in these programs. Its president is James Ravannack, and its Executive Director is Rich Bender.

California USA Wrestling is the national governing body for the sport of wrestling in the state of California and, as such, is its representative to USA Wrestling. Simply, California USA Wrestling is the central organization that coordinates amateur wrestling programs in the State of California, and works to create interest and participation in these programs. California USA Wrestling is a non for profit 501(c)3 corporation. California USA Wrestling has more than 19,000 members. These members include athletes of all ages, coaches, officials, parents and fans striving together to strengthen the sport. Each year, California USA Wrestling charters over 400 wrestling clubs and sanctions over 200 local, state, competitions.

In the United States, the official website is, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @wrestlingvision.

The international links for FILA are, on Facebook at and on Twitter @FILA_Official.

The Semnani Family Foundation focuses on tackling questions of global health, poverty and disaster relief, with particular emphasis on protecting women and children. During the past 20 years, the foundation has collaborated with more than 550 non-profit organizations in projects ranging from famine and earthquake relief to the establishment of vaccination programs and health clinics.

Media contact: USA Wrestling, Craig Sesker,, 719-640-5815

Brener Zwikel & Associates, Inc., Toby Zwikel,, 818-462-5599
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