Gholamreza Takhti (Persian: غلام رضا تختی, born August 27, 1930 Tehran – deceased January 7, 1968 Tehran) was an Iranian Olympic Gold-Medalist Wrestler and Varzesh-e Bastani practitioner. Popularly nicknamed Jahān Pahlevān ("The World Champion") because of his chivalrous behavior and sportsmanship (Javanmardi in Iranian culture), he was the most popular athlete of Iran in the 20th century, although dozens of Iranian athletes have won more international medals than he did. Takhti is still a hero to many Iranians. He is listed in the FILA wrestling hall of fame.
Takhti, the youngest child of a poor family was born in Khaniabad neighborhood of south Tehran of Hamadan Turks origin. on August 27, 1930. At the age of 15, he entered Poulad Club in south tehran and was trained wrestling. He soon left Tehran to become a manual laborer in the oil-rich city of Masjed Soleiman. When he was called up for military service, his potential in wrestling was discovered and he began to train seriously soon after he was recruited as an Iran Railways employee in 1948.
Takhti won his first Iranian championship in 1950, and on his first trip abroad in 1951, he won a silver medal at the world freestyle championships in Helsinki - the first international medal ever gained by an Iranian wrestler. One year later in 1952, he won another silver medal again in Helsinki, this time in 1952 Summer Olympics.
The subsequent highlights of his career were an Olympic gold medal in 1956 (Melbourne) and world championships in 1959 (Tehran) another silver in the 1960 Rome Olympics and 1961 World Championships (Yokohama). His Olympics career finished with one Gold & two silver medals. He did however finish fourth in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics as well.
Takhti started as a middleweight wrestler og 79 kg and 87 kg categories, as he was getting heavier, he decided to move up to the next weight, 97 kg, for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. He was unable to catch a medal and he was placed 4th.
Character on the Wrestling mat
Takhti tended to act fairly when competing against rivals during his career, something which originated from traditional values of Zurkhaneh, a kind of heroic behaviour that epitomizes chivalrous qualities known as Javanmardi.
For instance, once he had a match with Russian wrestler Alexander Medved who had an injured right knee. When Takhti found out that Medved was injured, he avoided touching the injured leg and tried to attack the other leg instead. He lost the match, but showed that he valued honorable behavior more than reaching victory.
Another example of his character comes from a match in Moscow. After defeating the then-world champion Anatoli Albul, Takhti saw the sorrow on the face of Albul's mother. Takhti went to her and said, "I'm sorry about the result, but your son is a great wrestler." She smiled and kissed him.
Social and Political activisms
In 1962, a terrible earthquake occurred in Bou'in-Zahra in western Iran, killing 45,000. Takhti was deeply touched by the suffering. Already one of Iran's biggest stars, he began to walk one of the main avenues of Tehran, asking for assistance for the victims. He inspired other champions to follow in his footseps, and thousands gave to alleviate the suffering.
Takhti was found dead in his hotel room on January 7, 1968. The Iranian government officially proclaimed his death a suicide. However, some claim that he was murdered because of his political activities against the Pahlavi regime, accusing SAVAK, the Iranian intelligence agency at that time. Because he was a national hero his funeral, organized by Hossein Towfigh, editor in chief of the late Towfigh magazine, drew hundreds of thousands of mourners. Towfigh magazine issued a special edition of their popular weekly magazine where they caricatured Takhti with angel wings flying high above the throngs of Iranian mourners at his own funeral with a caption that read "Don't cry for me, cry for your own plight." This was a direct reference not only to the plight of the Iranian people under the dictatorial regime of the Shah, but also showed Takhti's democratic beliefs, one of the reasons cited for his mysterious death. Towfigh magazine was shut down by the Shah for several months after printing this cartoon. He is buried at Ebn-e Babooyeh cemetery in Southern part of Tehran, near Shahr-e Ray, where he is commemorated every year by his fans, even now many years after his death. He was survived by his wife and son, Babak Takhti, an author and translator. The movie Takhti, begun by Ali Hatami and finished by Behrooz Afkhami, examined some of the theories about Takhti's death.
- Houchang E. Chehabi, “TAḴTI, Ḡolām-Reżā”, Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, originally published July 20, 2005
- Behrooz, Maziar (2000). Rebels With A Cause: The Failure of the Left in Iran. I.B.Tauris. p. 197. ISBN 9781860646300.
- Sarrafi, Khashayar. Modern Pahlevan: Jahan Pahlevan Takhti. Shanghai University Sports Research Center, College of Physical Education. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- "Gholamreza TAKHTI (IRI): Biographie". Fédération Internationale des Luttes Associées (FILA). Retrieved July 28, 2012.
- "Iranians honor wrestling legend Gholam-Reza Takhti". Tehran Times. 8 January 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Iole, Kevin (June 23, 2013). "The cruel tragedy of The Iron Sheik". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved June 25, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gholamreza Takhti.|
- Profile at sports-reference.com
- Takhti at the Internet Movie Database
- A poem by Siavash Kasrai about Takhti
- Mohtāj Rasouli, In Memory of Jahān Pahlavān Takhti, in Persian, Jadid Online, 7 January 2008, .
Shokā Sahrāi, an audio slideshow, Jadid Online, 7 January 2008,  (3 min 47 sec).
Some reminiscences of Gholamreza Takhti by his friends, in Persian, Jadid Online, 7 January 2008, .
- Bahār Navā'i, Takhti at British Museum (Takhti dar Muzeh-ye Britāniā), in Persian, Jadid Online, 2 March 2009, .
An audio slideshow, Jadid Online, 2 March 2009,  (3 min 57 sec).