Charlotte, North Carolina, is home to a thriving Iranian-American community. Over the years, this community has come together through local sports teams and clubs, connecting Iranian immigrants and Iranian-Americans alike through shared interests and pride in their heritage. Our new blog post will explore some of the most popular and influential Iranian sports organizations that call Charlotte home.
Did you know? Wrestling is considered Iran’s national sport, with traditions dating back thousands of years. The Persian emperor Cyrus the Great was said to have loved wrestling and even died in a wrestling match accident.
Tehran United Football Club
One of Charlotte’s most well-known Iranian sports clubs is the Tehran United Football Club. Founded in 2001 by a group of Iranian immigrants, Tehran United started as a small recreational soccer team. However, it quickly expanded into a much larger club fielding dozens of youth, adult, and senior teams across the Charlotte area.
Tehran United provides a place for Iranian-Americans to enjoy the beautiful game while connecting with others who share their cultural background. The club frequently participates in local leagues and tournaments. But they also hold annual heritage celebrations honoring Persian culture and traditions.
Some of Tehran United’s notable achievements include:
Winning the 2012 Charlotte Soccer Association’s adult league championship.
Fielding over 300 players across all levels in 2019.
Hosting a Nowruz festival in 2015 that attracted over 5,000 attendees.
Fun fact: Iran’s national soccer team competed in the 1978 and 1998 World Cup tournaments. Soccer has been popular in Iran since it was introduced in the late 1800s.
Tehran United is the place in Charlotte for Iranian-Americans seeking a tight-knit soccer community.
Iranian Dragon Boat Club
In addition to soccer, Charlotte Iranians have also embraced the ancient Chinese sport of dragon boating. The Iranian Dragon Boat Club was established in 2008 when a few Iranian-American paddling enthusiasts secured a dragon boat to form their own team.
Over the years, the club has grown tremendously. They now have over 60 members across men’s, women’s, and co-ed crews. Club members range from novice paddlers to experienced racers with medals from national competitions.
The Iranian Dragon Boat Club competes in races across the Southeastern US. They’ve become a regular fixture at the annual Charlotte Dragon Boat Festival, even winning first place in the mixed division in 2016. The club combines grueling practices with Persian cultural celebrations, creating a fun yet competitive atmosphere.
Some other achievements by the Iranian Dragon Boat Club include:
Hosting Charlotte’s first-ever Chaharshanbe Suri festival in 2009. This Iranian festival celebrates the coming of spring.
Winning 1st place in the Club Challenge Cup at the 2018 Atlanta Dragon Boat Festival.
Fielding the only Iranian women’s crew in the South Carolina Dragon Boat Association league.
Whether you want to train for your first race or compete at a high level, the Iranian Dragon Boat Club welcomes paddlers from all backgrounds.
Trivia: Dragon boating traces its roots to ancient China over 2000 years ago. Dragon boat racing has grown into an international sport with over 50 million participants.
Mehrzad Martial Arts Academy
Iran has a centuries-long martial arts tradition, from Varzesh-e Pahlavani to Zourkhaneh. Mehrzad Martial Arts Academy brings these disciplines to Charlotte through Iranian-style wrestling, boxing, and weight training.
The Academy was founded in 2016 by former Iranian junior national wrestling champion Ali Mehrzad. Coach Mehrzad aims to preserve Iranian strength sports while helping Iranian-American youth develop strong minds and bodies.
Some highlights of Mehrzad Martial Arts Academy include:
Offering Varzesh-e Pahlavani classes that stick close to traditional Iranian training methods. Students wear proper attire like loincloths and learn techniques with classic Persian names.
Incorporating poetry readings and music into training to connect mind, body, and spirit. Trainees recite poems like the 10th-century epic Shahnameh while working out.
Hosting Mehregan festivals celebrating the ancient Persian holiday of the autumn harvest. These festivals include food, competitions, and performances.
Whether you want to represent Iranian athletics or get fit, Mehrzad Martial Arts Academy ties world-class training to Persian traditions and community.
Fun fact: One of Iran’s most famous traditional sports is Zurkhaneh, a strength-training martial art that combines music, poetry, and calisthenics. It is still practiced in Zurkhaneh gyms today.
Charlotte Iranian Basketball League
Iranians have long excelled at basketball, especially on the global club circuit. The Charlotte Iranian Basketball League (CIBL) brings this passion to North Carolina.
The CIBL consists of four club teams drawing from Charlotte’s Iranian populace. Founded in 2013, it has quickly become one of the area’s most competitive recreational sports leagues. CIBL teams have participated in tournaments along the East Coast, including winning the 2015 Persian Cup in Maryland.
A few other CIBL highlights:
Games are major community events, with friends and family packing gyms to cheer on their teams.
Teams like the Persepolis, named after the famous Iranian club team. This connects the CIBL to Iran’s long basketball tradition.
League alumni have gone on to play NCAA basketball at both the Division I and Division III levels.
From experienced former pros to casual weekend warriors, the CIBL appeals to all basketball lovers. It’s the passion project of Iranian-Americans seeking friendly but fierce competition.
Stats: Iran has frequently been Asia’s top male basketball performer, winning 3 of the last 5 FIBA Asia Cups. Iran’s national team is currently 23rd in FIBA’s world rankings.
The Role of Sports in Charlotte’s Iranian Community
Whether on the pitch, court, boat, or mat, Charlotte’s Iranian sports teams have profoundly impacted the local community. Sports provide a healthy outlet for youth to embrace their roots and make connections. For immigrants, cheering on a fellow Iranian-American team offers a comforting reminder of home.
Clubs like Tehran United, the Iranian Dragon Boat Club, Mehrzad Academy, and CIBL have given Charlotte Iranians a sense of cultural pride and belonging through athletic achievement. They’ve also raised the profile of Charlotte’s Iranian community across the wider city and the South.
As these clubs continue to thrive and expand, who knows what they may accomplish in the future? For now, they’ve proven how sports can unite a community and bridge cultures. That’s something Charlotte as a whole can celebrate.
Conclusion: Cultural Connection Through Sports
Charlotte’s Iranian clubs and teams showcase the rich sports tradition in Persian culture. They provide community, preserve heritage, and create connections in a new homeland abroad.
Whether you’re an Iranian immigrant looking for familiar faces or a Charlotte native seeking new cultural experiences, these clubs offer a portal into a proud, ancient athletic tradition.
So, the next time you want to get active, consider checking out an Iranian team or club. You never know what new passions, friendships, and understandings it may help forge. Lastly, the iranian business directory charlotte includes everything from restaurants and grocery stores to dentists, lawyers, and real estate agencies. Refer to the Iranian business directory if you hope to connect with a business that caters to your needs.