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FLASH: Iran defeats USA in Grand Central Terminal 6-1; Dake wins international debut

Kyle Dake of the USA lifts Hassan Tahmasebi of Iran, on the way to a victory at 74 kg in Grand Central Terminal. John Sachs photo

NEW YORK, N.Y. – It was a sellout crowd in historic Grand Central Terminal in New York City, to see two of the world’s best wrestling nations battle on national television provided by NBC Sports Channel.

When it was all over, the guests from Iran emerged with a 6-1 victory, edging Team USA on a number of very close matches.

The highlight for the USA was the debut of four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake (Ithaca, N.Y./New York AC/Finger Lakes RTC) at 74 kg/163 lbs.

Competing in his first major international event on the Senior level, Dake defeated Hassan Tahmasebi, 2-0, 1-0. Both periods went to the clinch. Dake won the first period in the defensive position, getting a two-point crotch lift. In the second, he won the ball draw, and lifted up and took him down for the winning point.

The other matches went to Iran, which were cheered loudly by a small but vocal cheering section of Iranian wrestling fans.

The first match at 55 kg/121 lbs. was a very close battle, going three full periods between World bronze medalist Hassan Rahimi of Iran and U.S. Open champion Obe Blanc of the USA. Blanc won the first period on a pushout, but Rahimi took the second with a takedown.

In the third period, Rahimi got a takedown then tried a gut wrench, which Blanc blocked and they went out of bounds. The original call was two for each athlete. The USA challenged and won, giving two to Blanc on the counter and a point to Rahimi. Tied 2-2, Blanc was winning on criteria. However, a late two-point gutwrench went to Rahimi, and a U.S. challenge was denied, ending the period 5-2 for the Iranian.

Next up was Masoud Esmailpour Joybari of Iran) who stopped two-time U.S. Open champion Reece Humphrey of the USA, 1-0, 6-0 Joybari scored in the first period on a pushout. In the second, Joybari got a takedown, then ran a series of gutwrenches to get a technical fall.

At 66 kg/145.5 lbs., two-time World champion Mehdi Taghavi battled 2013 U.S. Open champion Kellen Russell. Taghavi jumped to a 2-0 lead, but Russell closed with a takedown. Another Taghavi takedown made it 3-0 after the first period. The second period went to Taghavi with two takedowns, 2-0.

After Dake’s win at 74 kg/163 lbs., Iran closed the dual with three more victories.

Olympic bronze medalist Ehsan Lashgari stopped U.S. Open champion Keith Gavin, 1-0, 1-0 with takedowns in both periods at 84 kg/185 lbs.

The match at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. went to Hamed Tatari, who beat U.S. Open champion J.D. Bergman, 3-1, 1-0. Tatari scored a key gutwrench to win the first period, then scored a counter takedown with only 12 seconds to go to capture the second period.

The event closed out with an epic battle at 120 kg/264.5 lbs., as Olympic bronze medalist Khomeil Ghasemi edged Olympian and 2009 World bronze medalist Tervel Dlagnev, 1-1, 1-0. Ghasemi won the first period after protesting an exchange in the closing seconds, receiving a takedown point after the review. In the second period, Ghasemi scored on a double leg takedown for the winning score.

When the match was over, the teams from Iran, the United States and Russia all posed together on the mat, in an act of solidarity and friendship, in their unified effort to help Keep Olympic Wrestling.

The USA and Iran will wrestle again at United 4 Wrestling, a dual meet in Los Angeles, Calif. on Sunday, May 19. Another big crowd is expected for this outstanding event at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

ickets for “United 4 Wrestling” are available at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena box office, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at, and by charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. The LA Sports Arena box office (3939 South Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90037) is open weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and 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.

At Grand Central Terminal, New York, N.Y., May 15

55 kg/121 lbs. – Mehdi Taghavi (Iran) dec. Obe Blanc (USA), 0-1, 1-0, 5-2

60 kg/132 lbs. – Masoud Esmailpour Joybari (Iran) dec. Reece Humphrey (USA), 1-0, 6-0

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Mehdi Taghavi (Iran) dec. Kellen Russell (USA), 3-1, 0-2

74 kg/163 lbs. – Kyle Dake (USA) dec. Hassan Tahmasebi (Iran), 2-0, 1-0

84 kg/185 lbs. – Ehsan Lashgari (Iran) dec. Keith Gavin (USA), 1-0, 1-0

96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Hamed Tatari (Iran) dec. J.D. Bergman (USA), 3-1, 1-0

120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Khomeil Ghasemi (Iran) dec. Tervel Dlagnev (USA), 1-1, 1-0
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