The first Iranian woman to box in a professional match has cancelled plans to return home from France after a warrant for her arrest was issued in Tehran.
Sadef Khadem beat French boxer Anne Chavin in the bout on April 13. She had planned to fly to Iran this week with Mahyar Monshipour, an Iranian-born former boxing world champion who is now a French citizen.
Khadem’s representative, Clara Dallay, told Reuters that the authorities had issued arrest warrants against her and Monshipour.
Hossein Soori, the head of Iran’s boxing federation, denied Khadem would be arrested, attributing the information to “media linked to Saudi Arabia.”
“Mrs Khadem is not a member of [Iran’s] organized athletes for boxing, and from the boxing federation’s perspective all her activities are personal,” he was quoted as saying by the semiofficial ISNA news agency.
Women’s participation in sport is heavily restricted and regulated in Iran, although there has been some easing in recent years.
The federation now allows women to register to box, on condition that they be coached by a woman and wear the Islamic hijab while competing. To date, no bouts between female fighters have taken place in Iran.