Iranian Coach Deliberately Injures Wrestlers’ Ears in Bizarre Rite of Passage


A wrestling coach in the city of Naghdeh, in the northwestern province of West Azerbaijan, has deliberately and repeatedly bruised cartridges and tissues of six young wrestlers’ ears in what appears to be a peculiar rite of passage.

“Deforming and reshaping a wrestler’s ears is a ritual aimed at creating a distinct-looking cauliflower ear which is the hallmark of experienced boxers and wrestlers,” the coach reportedly said. “A cauliflower ear is a wrestler’s badge of honor.”

All six wrestlers suffered injuries, with one losing an ear because of severe infection. The families of the young wrestlers have since filed formal complaints against the coach with the local police.

The caretaker of the Islamic Republic of Iran Wrestling Federation Mohammad Bana has asked the director of the Provincial Wrestling Office Javad Nourmohammadi to revoke the coaching license of the individual in question while the investigation into the case continues.

“We strongly condemn the actions of this person. He will never work as a wrestling coach,” Mr. Nourmohammadi said.

Cauliflower ear, also known as perichondria hematoma or wrestler’s ear, is a deformity of the ear caused by trauma. Repeated blows cause blood to pool in the outer ear (pinna), which leads to hematomas that block the blood flow to cartridges and tissues. Without blood, cartilage cannot get the nutrients it needs which ultimately leads to infection and death of tissue. New fibrous tissue forms around the area, creating a cauliflower-like texture on the ear.

Nowadays, however, many wrestlers wear protective headgear to avoid injuring their ears.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]