Saeid, 25, is a champion in wrestling and judo and since being granted a work visa while he seeks asylum in Australia he hopes to find employment that will allow him to train other athletes in his chosen sports. Saeid was a judo champion in his birth country Iran, but switched to wrestling when he arrived in Australia. Saeid has trained for five hours most days since.
Saeid, in blue, in a wrestling match.
Saeid said he started learning judo in Iran at age 12 or 13. “There was a judo gym close to my home,” he said. “I always wondered why guys went there. My friend said to me, ‘you can come with me and try it’, so I started training there every night.”
Saeid was 18 years old when he joined Iran’s national judo team. But it became unsafe for him in Iran, and he had to escape the country at age 23.
About two years ago he arrived in Australia to seek asylum, and he is currently living in the community while his claim for refugee status is assessed.
“Here in Australia my friend Mohamed [another SSI client from Iran] who does wrestling taught me many techniques about wrestling” Saeid said. “Judo and wrestling are very similar.”
Saeid practiced the new sport for eight months before entering his first competition. In his first competition, the Canberra Cup, he won one gold and one silver medal. And in the second one, in Sydney, he won silver.
Rigorous training and a high-protein diet helped Saeid get to where he is in the sport. “I do wrestling three times a week and other types of sport for about five hours a day: boxing; kick-boxing; judo. Sometimes by myself. Sometimes with my friends,” he said.
“I drink too much water, maybe six litres a day. I eat lots of tuna and chicken breast, foods like cucumber and tomato, and take 100% protein powder. Low carb, high protein.”
Despite his success so far in wrestling, Saeid said he had been missing judo. “Judo is top of all the sports. It’s my favourite one. It’s very good for health, it makes a nice body and it’s a nice sport.”
He was happy to find a judo gym two weeks ago. “The coach there said to me, you can go very well, you can go in big competition,” Saeid said. “When I get my judo clothing, I will start again.”
Saeid credited sport with keeping his mind as well as body healthy over these years while his visa status has been uncertain. “I love sport. I love training,” he said. “It’s helpful for me. And maybe, now that I have been granted a work visa, if I get a job training I can help someone else.”