0747 GMT September 26, 2022
Iranian wrestling braces for a new chapter after Hassan Rangraz was appointed as the new head coach of the country’s Greco-Roman team, replacing Mohammad Bana.
Bana stepped down from his role following an under-par campaign at the recently-finished Wrestling World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, which saw his team fail to grab a single gold medal across 10 weight classes.
Mohammadreza Geraei, who entered the competitions as the reigning world and Olympic champion, was stunned by the host’s Mate Nemes in the 67kg final, while Amin Mirzazadeh also suffered a defeat against Turkish great Riza Kayaalp to settle for the 130kg silver.
Meanwhile, Mohammad-Hadi Saravi, who won an Olympic bronze last year before clinching the world gold in Oslo, finished with a 97kg bronze in the Serbian capital.
Bana’s team – runner-up to the Russian Wrestling Federation last year – had been the favorite to claim the Greco-Roman crown in the Russians’ absence, but only managed a fourth-place finish after Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Serbia.
Former head coach of the Iranian Greco-Roman wrestling team reacts during the Wrestling World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, on September on September 11, 2022.
This is not the first time Bana leaves the job since he first took over in 2005, only this time, no one seems to be regretting his departure.
Having led Iran to landmark triumphs over the years, Bana could consider himself as a victim of his own achievements.
The veteran masterminded a best-ever performance by Iran in the history of the Olympic Games when his team captured three gold medal at the London 2012.
He also steered his team to an all-time best tally of four golds – coupled with two bronzes – at the World Championships last year.
However, his approach to the team selection in the buildup to the event in Serbia was always criticized by the Iranian wrestling experts as he did not favor holding the world trails in the country and decided to pick the members of the team through his own methods.
His decision was further rebuked when Iranian wrestler Ali Arsalan, who blamed Bana for ignoring him in recent years, cruised to the 72kg gold in Belgrade as a Serbian representative, while Iranian participant Mohammadreza Mokhtari left the event empty-handed following a last-16 defeat against Frenchman Ibrahim Ghanem, who was later outmuscled by Arsalan in the semis.
Bana will forever be regarded as the architect of the Greco-Roman renaissance in Iran, but few in the country would argue that Rangraz – a world gold medalist in 2021 – will bring fresh blood to the sport.