One of the strongest men alive may prove no match … for US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Hadi Choopan, a 31-year-old bodybuilder from Iran has been blowing away competitors across the world, but will be unable to participate in the Mr. Olympia contest in Las Vegas next month because he hasn’t been able to get a visa approval from the agency.
Choopan, known to fans as the “Persian wolf,” has qualified for the September 12-15 event and his name is prominently featured on the Mr. Olympia website. The competition is considered the Super Bowl of pro bodybuilding and helped launch the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger -— who won it seven times.
“What he’s really known for is the legs and his dry, ripped crazy conditioning. He is just out of his mind shredded,” said Steve Ioannou, a New York-based bodybuilder and coach. al. “He’s like 5’5, 220 and has like no body fat.”
Bob Cicherillo, a former bodybuilder and emcee for Mr. Olympia since 2005, said, “I would like to see him, the pro league would like to see him, and the fans would like to see him competing. The guy is a talent. He’s one of the best in the world.”
Choopan won the International Federation of BodyBuilding event last month in Vancouver — with no visa difficulties from Canadian authorities.
“This is a governmental thing between the US and Iran,” said Cicherillo.
“We support Hadi Choopan as an IFBB pro athlete. He is a member in good standing,” Cicherillo added, “I’ve never heard a bad word about him personally.”
“He’s Iranian,” Dave Palumbo who owns the bodybuilding fan website RXmuscle told The Post. “That’s the problem.”
“I’ve called for the government to grant Hadi a visa based on the fact that he’s an elite level athlete who should be immune from the politics and sanctions against his government,” Palumbo said.
Iran was one of the terror-prone nations listed on a travel ban instituted by President Trump in 2017.
Choopan could not compete last year because of visa problems and blamed “discrimination.”
Choopan and his coach did not respond to requests for comment.
American Media Inc., which owns the competition, says they’re doing all they can do to get Hadi to the United States.
“The Mr. Olympia is actively working with immigration lawyers to explore and pursue all possible legal options available for Hadi to join the incredible roster of competitors taking the stage at this year’s event,” Dan Solomon, a vice president at the company, told The Post.
Reps for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services declined to comment on Choopan’s case.
Source: Read Full Article