STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 07: UFC light heavyweight fighter Phil Davis works out with Penn State 165-weight senior wrestler David Taylor during the ‘20 days to UFC 167’ media tour at the Lorenzo Wrestling Complex on the campus of Penn State University on November 7, 2013 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Graham’s Taylor on Iranian ban: ‘I want what’s best for the United States’

Graham High School and Penn State grad David Taylor — along with Ohio State wrestlers Logan Stieber and Kyle Snyder - are among those banned by the Iranian government from participating in the 2017 World Cup scheduled at Kermanshah, Iran on Feb. 16-17.

Snyder won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Taylor, while at Penn State, was a two-time NCAA champion and placed second twice. He was a four-time Big Ten champion and led the Nittany Lions to four NCAA titles. Both, along with Stieber, were members of the U.S. World Cup roster.

“Ultimately, to have the opportunity to wrestle at the World Cup would have been good,” Taylor said. “I was looking forward to wrestling in Iran. Their fans are great, in terms of their support for the sport. But I love my country and I want what’s best for the United States.”

Taylor said there had been a “back and forth” last week whether they would be going to the tournament after the U.S. issued a travel ban. He found out the U.S. wrestlers wouldn’t be allowed in the country this morning on social media.

He said the team will be ready to compete if the situation is resolved. If it isn’t, they’ll look at other alternatives.

“The World Cup is a premier event, but in terms of options outside of it, we’re talking through different scenarios,” Taylor said. “Between everyone, we’ll go with what’s best for the United States moving forward. We’ll be ready to wrestle at a moment’s notice and we’ll continue to look forward.”

The Iron Sheik, the former professional and Olympic wrestler voiced his displeasure for Iran’s decision on Twitter.

The Sheik, who was a noted pro wrestling villain during the 1980s and is now a major celebrity on social media, was a member of Iran’s 1968 Olympic team. He fled the country in 1969 after his friend and mentor Gholamreza Takhti was murdered. He moved to the U.S., where he won an AAU championship in 1971, and was presented a gold medal by Muhammad Ali. The next year, he served as an assistant coach on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team. The Sheik (real name Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri) often uses the strength of Twitter account’s half-a-million followers and his renewed celebrity to support U.S. amateur wrestling. 

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