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‘Hamedi was robbed of a gold medal’: Karate league offers Saudi full-contact rematch

Published: Updated:

Full-contact league Karate Combat has offered Saudi fighter Tarek Hamedi a rematch against Iranian Sajad Ganjzadeh after the latter took home an Olympic gold in a controversial match that saw Hamedi disqualified.

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The 23-year-old Saudi karateka delivered a high kick to Ganjzadeh’s neck in the men’s over-75kg final in Tokyo.

Ganjzadeh had to be removed from the arena on a stretcher, but was awarded the gold when officials disqualified Hamedi.

“Hamedi was ahead on points when he threw that beautifully-timed kick. It should have won him the match,” said Karate Combat president Adam Kovacs in a statement.

“Instead he got disqualified because Olympic karate rules are semi-contact and you are penalized for using excessive force.”

Tarek Hamedi of Saudi Arabia, right, reacts as medical personnel attend to Sajad Ganjzadeh of Iran after he was injured in their men's kumite +75kg gold medal bout for karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)
Tarek Hamedi of Saudi Arabia, right, reacts as medical personnel attend to Sajad Ganjzadeh of Iran after he was injured in their men's kumite +75kg gold medal bout for karate at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)

The league announced previously that it would offer every karate gold medalist a six-figure contract.

Even though Hamedi only received a silver medal, Karate Combat also made him the same offer.

Ganjzadeh is already a contracted fighter with Karate Combat, and so Kovacs says that it is up to the Saudi to accept in order for the fight to happen.

That said, the young Olympian is unlikely to be struggling for money. Saudi Arabia’s sports minister announced on Saturday that Hamedi would be awarded US$1.3 million for his efforts.

The controversy over the match ignited questions about the scoring system in the sport, which debuted in the Olympics this year.

“I love amateur karate - I was a world-level competitor myself - but you don’t find this rule in other amateur combat sports like boxing, wrestling or judo,” said Kovacs.

“I think it’s bad for our sport, which is part of what drove us to create a full-contact professional karate league.

“I think Hamedi was robbed of a gold medal and I don’t think that’s how Ganjzadeh wanted to win either.”

Read more:

Saudi karateka wins Kingdom’s second-ever silver after knocking out opponent

Saudi Sports Minister says Olympic champion Hamedi will be awarded $1.3 mln

Saudi Olympic champion Hamedi greeted with surprise celebration in Jeddah airport