Sadaf Khadem, the first Iranian woman to compete in an official boxing match, won't return home to Iran after learning about an arrest warrant issued against her coach, she announced Wednesday.
Khadem was in the western French town of Royan for the fight against boxer Anne Chauvin on Saturday. She won the fight while decked out in a green tank top and red shorts with a white waistband, matching the Iranian flag. Her head was also uncovered while she traded blows, all of which are against Iran's mandatory dress code for women.
"My trainer got information from Iran that said a warrant was issued for his arrest," Khadem, 24, told French sports magazine L'Express. "I could make my choices, but not put into danger the people who have helped me so much."
Mahyar Monshipour, who was born in Iran but now has French citizenship, expected to fly back to Tehran with her this week, but reportedly learned via text message about the warrant for his arrest. Before moving to France, Monshipour was a World Boxing Association champion.
Clara Dallay, Khadem's representative, told Reuters there was a warrant out for the boxer's arrest as well. A spokesperson for Khadem told AFP that she is “accused of violating Iranian dress rules for women while her trainer is suspected of complicity.” It is unclear whether the quotes were provided by the same individual.
That claim, however, has been denied by Iranian authorities. Hossein Soori, the head of Iran's boxing federation, put out a statement via the Ministry of Sports and Youth saying that Khadem was under no threat.
"Ms. Khadem is not a member of [Iran's] organized athletes for boxing, and from the boxing federation's perspective, all her activities are personal," Soori was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency ISNA.
Women are currently allowed to box in Iran, though they have to be trained by a woman and wear hijabs during matches. Training in public would have also been a no-go for Khadem, as training facilities in Iran are reserved for men.
"I wore the flag of my country high," Khadem told L'Equipe. "I fought with courage. I won. I honored our national anthem. Yet the Iranian boxing federation let me know that 'This fight does not concern us.' In which country in the world does honoring your homeland lead to an arrest warrant?"