"Please Tell The World We Need Help"

It began as a strongman contest, but it quickly became much more.

"We arrived in Iran on Tuesday," Arild Haugen told IronMind®, "and the contest should have started on Wednesday," speaking of the World Strongman Cup competition in Iran last week.

Wednesday morning, though, there was no equipment, Haugen said, so the competitors waited until Thursday, and still there was no equipment, and "Nobody told us anything," Haugen said. Friday morning, still no equipment, but then it finally showed up.

The money promised to competitors still had not materialized, Haugen said, and this was especially problematic since some of the competitors had paid their own way over, with the promise of reimbursement along with their prize money. In addition to these expenses, competitors such as Haugen were taking time off work, without pay, in order to compete.

At this point, the competitors said that either they got paid or they would not compete, but eventually a compromise was reached: The competitors offered to do one event on Friday, and then agreed to do two events, with the understanding that the money would then have to be produced or they would not continue, and so things began with the truck pull, followed by the log press. After the log press, though, things deteriorated rapidly.

"Two nice girls wanted a photo with me," Arild Haugen said, "so I lifted them up. The police grabbed the girls and put them straight in jail." None of the competitors were arrested, but Haugen was told that he had to copy in his own writing and then sign an apology that the contest organizer had written, which was then going to be delivered to the police, and he had to sign it "Arild Stupid Haugen." Asked if he was afraid that he might be arrested, too, Haugen said that he expected to be arrested, but he was never afraid: "I knew they wouldn't kill me," he said.

Not everyone had this confidence, because an Iranian citizen who had been talking to the competitors, and not saying the most favorable things about the current regime, received a phone call saying that he was about to be arrested. The man reportedly started crying and he told the competitors that he expected to be killed. A number of the competitors gave the man their business cards and offered to do whatever they could to help him.

It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least, for competitors who had never been to Iran before and there was a feeling that the very fact that the Iranian people were enjoying the contest and having a good time set the stage for the quick and harsh police reaction - a competitor who danced was reportedly censured, and another, who held a baby, was also reprimanded, because the baby was a girl. Competitors were approached by Iranian citizens who begged, "Please tell the world we need help," and the police and government were described as "crazy."

Svend Karlsen, President of Pro Strongman - Norway, told IronMind® that as a result of this, "No Norweigan athletes will compete in Iran," and the whole episode has probably put World Strongman Cup on a prepaid or cash-on-delivery basis: Next up on the World Strongman Cup calendar is a competition in Dubai, and IronMind® has heard more than once that unless the money due from Iran, along with some pre-payment or proof of funds for Dubai, materializes, competitors will not participate in that contest.

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