Iran’s Golden Sanda Sisters – Shahrbano Mansourian and Elaheh Mansourian: A Unique Story on International Women’s Day

Iran’s Golden Sanda Sisters – Shahrbano Mansourian and Elaheh Mansourian: A Unique Story on International Women’s Day


In the world of sanda fighting, Iranian sisters Elaheh and Shahrbano Mansourian are elite champions. Between them they’ve won dozens of international medals -- and they are also inspiring role models to a new generation of Iranian girls with Olympic fighting dreams. Sanda has lifted them out of poverty and given them professional status and financial freedom. They are highly recognized and respected in Iran as pioneering athletes who bring gold and glory to the nation, and they also work tirelessly to promote wushu in Iran and around the region.

Growing up in a poor family with six children, Elaheh and Shahrbano’s discovery of sanda fighting took them on an odyssey to become world champions. As well, they have been instrumental in demonstrating that technically women are every bit as exciting to watch fight sanda as men. The Mansourian sisters have been critical in this global achievement. The Iran Wushu Federation was one of the first to recognize the value of training top level female sanda fighters, and the success of the women’s sanda team has helped shine a spotlight on wushu in Iran, in turn helping the sport to grow in popularity and government support there.

For Elaheh and Sharhbano, becoming sanda champions was a way to escape from the grinding poverty they were born into, and also help their family find a home and security.

The family didn’t own their own farm but were tenants in an already poor area. Looking for a way out, the Mansourian sisters searched for a sport that could help give them all a better life. Sharhbano, 31, the eldest, was interested in karate, but soon turned her attention to wushu’s full-contact sanda in 2004. She says, “I always liked fighting since I was a kid, but I saw that sanda was a suitable way to channel my energies.”

Her little sister Elaheh was six years younger. She was also intrigued by sanda, and she wanted to join too. What stood in their way was money. There was only enough to scrape together for the eldest daughter to go to wushu school. But when Shahrbano came back from each class, she taught all the sanda techniques she learned to Elaheh. Whether it was from growing up in a tough childhood, or innate natural talents, or iron-willed discipline to train for long hours, the pair of sisters were quickly noticed by the Iran Wushu Federation.

Shahrbano was the first wushu graduate in the family, but Elaheh was a prodigy. She qualified for the national youth team and won her first wushu medal – a silver -- in Korea’s Asian Youth Championships in 2007 when she was 16. Two years later she was fighting at the World Wushu Championships in Canada, and won another silver medal. She vowed the next would be gold – and she was right – in 2010 she won a gold medal at the Sanda World Cup in China. But the following World Championships in Turkey brought a disappointing bronze, and Elaheh doubled down to train harder.

Two years later in Malaysia at the 12th World Wushu Championships, Elaheh made it to the finals, and won her fight against a tough opponent after having her cheekbone shattered by a kick. She refused to quit the fight – and won. She was not only a winner, she was a hero. Pictures of her battered face, and painful smile as the referee raised her hand in the ring, flew around the world on the internet, along with the story of her bravery and grit. It took her six months to recover.

All those years, Shahrbano was at her sister’s side at most every sanda competition, fighting 2 weight divisions up. It was her golden road all the way, starting with a gold medal in Turkey at the World Wushu Championships in 2011, another in 2013 in Malaysia, and again in 2015 in Jakarta. One of her biggest challenges was defending her title in the 8th Sanda World Cup in Xian, China, which she did in one of the toughest fights of her career.


The Mansourian sisters celebrated double gold medals in both the 9th Asian Wushu Championships and in the 14th World Wushu Championships in Kazan – and then again at the 9th Sanda World Cup in Hangzhou in 2018! And back home in Iran? They’ve come a long way from being poor farm girls. Finally, there’s security, as well as honor. As professional athletes they receive a steady salary from the Sport Ministry. Each gold medal also comes with a large cash bonus, which lets the Mansourian sisters pursue their sport careers and achieve financial independence.

Shahrbano is married and lives in Isfahan. Elaheh has opened her own business, a club for fitness and martial arts, also in the city of Isfahan. With her earnings, she supports her whole family since Shahrbano got married. Off the leitai, the Mansourian sisters train daily and mentor younger women athletes who are hoping to achieve the same level of world champion. In fact, they also train their middle sister Soheila – who is following in their footsteps and recently took a bronze medal in the last Asian Wushu Championships. 

In Iran Elaheh and Shahrbano are now famous – their gold medal wins make the national sport news, and there have already been three documentaries made about them. The latest is called “Zero to Platform” – it recently screened at the Iran International Documentary Film Festival, where it won best documentary feature, and became the most viewed documentary in Iranian history.

Iran wins Int'l Wushu Cup 2019

Iran ranked first in the 3rd International Wushu Cup 2019 which was held in Zahedan, southeastern Iran, head of Sistan and Baluchestan Wushsu committee said.

Speaking to IRNA on Monday, Abbas Shibak said the event was held with the attendance of five foreign teams from India, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Two Iranian teams also participated in the event. 

Afghanistan and India ranked second and third respectively.

Wushu, or Chinese Kungfu, is a hard and full martial art, as well as a full-contact sport. It has a long history in reference to Chinese martial arts.

Peace and Friendship int’l Wushu Championship in Zahedan due

The third international tournament of Wushu Cup of Peace and Friendship hosted by Sistan and Baluchestan will be held in Zahedan.

The tournament will be held in two sectors of male and female with the participation of Palestinian, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Sistan and Baluchestan teams as commemorations of the Quds Force Martyrs and commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution victory in Iran.

The tournament will be held on March 2-4 in the sports complex of Imam Ali in Zahedan. 

The Wushu Federation of Iran is one of the few federations in the field of hosting two international events (Pars Cup and the Peace and Friendship Cup). Now Iran, as the world champion and one of the main pillars of this field, is trying to expand Wushu in the region.

Wushu confirmed be present at Chengdu 2021 Summer Universiade

Chengdu has officially been confirmed as the host of the 2021 Summer Universiade by the International University Sports Federation (FISU).

The decision was made at the FISU Executive Committee meeting here today, prior to the start of the Winter Universiade tomorrow.

The award of the Summer Universiade to Chengdu had been a near certainty following FISU and officials from the Chinese city entering a "pre-attribution contract" back in December.

Chengdu was the sole candidate to host the Universiade.

They will succeed Naples as hosts and will receive the FISU flag from the Italian city at the Closing Ceremony of the upcoming edition of the university sport event.

FISU President Oleg Matytsin had claimed a delegation from the organisation had been "amazed by the quality of the presentation" when visiting Chengdu last month.

A newly conceived 40,000-capacity stadium was one of the main venues viewed on the evaluation visit.

The Crown Lake Sports Centre, which can hold around 40,000 spectators and will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, was among the sites visited last month

It will also hold athletics competitions at the Universiade.

FISU officials visited the Chinese city last month prior to confirming Chengdu as hosts ©FISU
FISU officials visited the Chinese city last month prior to confirming Chengdu as hosts ©FISU

The delegation also visited the campus of Chengdu University, which will house the Universiade Village as well as the volleyball competition venue.

Chengdu will be the third Summer Universiade host in China in two decades, after Beijing in 2001 and Shenzhen in 2011.

The capital of Sichuan province in central China, Chengdu is known as the home of the giant panda due to a breeding centre in the city and a nearby nature reserve.

Confirmation of Chengdu's hosting will be welcomed by FISU with two years to go until the Universiade.

The organisation had been forced to reopen the bidding process for the 2019 event back in 2014, following the withdrawal of the Brazilian city Brasília as hosts.

Naples stepped in as hosts in 2016 but have faced challenges posed by the shortened preparation period to hosting the event.

Chengdu is expected to host the Unviersiade from August 8 and 19 in 2021.

The programme is set to feature the 15 compulsory sports of archery, athletics, basketball, diving, fencing, football, gymnastics, judo and swimming are among the compulsory sports.

Table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball and water polo are also included, while badminton will be a compulsory sport for the first time at Chengdu 2021.

A further three optional sports will be included, with Chengdu having selected rowing, shooting and wushu.

Chengdu Mayor Luo Qiang was present at the FISU Executive Committee ©FISU
Chengdu Mayor Luo Qiang was present at the FISU Executive Committee ©FISU

Among the 41 sports venues proposed for the Summer Universiade, FISU claim 30 venues already are at an international standard. 

The remaining 11 venues are set for renovation, which is claimed will bring long lasting benefits to Southwest China.

"It was a great honour to have the Mayor of Chengdu, Mr Luo Qiang, and his colleagues join us here to share their vision for hosting the Universiade," said Matytsin. 

"Clearly Chengdu is a city with both a rich history and a bright future. 

"We feel very privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of that future, bringing the best student athletes from all over the world to Sichuan’s capital. 

"We have no doubt that Chengdu 2021 will prove to be an exceptional Universiade that will make a lasting and very positive impression both on the participants and the city itself."

Organisers claim the city boasts a special transportation system with environmentally-friendly vehicles which will allow 24-hour travel for athletes and delegation officials.

An effective marketing and promotion strategy was also included as part of the city's plan.

Zionist regime prevent Palestinian Wushu team head to visit Iran

Quds occupying regime has prevented Secretary of Palestinian Wushu-KungFu Federation to participate in Iran Peace and Friendship Cup.

Palestine wushu team of eight members were to leave the occupied lands for Iran to attend the third Peace and Friendship Cup in Zahedan Thursday night but the Zionist regime prevented the visit.

Zionist forces detained for six hours the secretary of Palestinian Wushu-KungFu Federation, who headed the team to Iran, and then prevented him to travel to the country. Hence, the Palestinian athletes travelled to Iran without any supervisor. 

The Peace and Friendship competition will be held in Zahedan, southeastern Iran from March 2-3.

Yu congrats Iran in New Year message for historical perfromance

IWUF President Yu New Year message to Executive Board member has indicated Iran great performance in Sands World Cup as a historical moment of the competitions. 

Dear Colleagues, dear Friends,

Happy New Year to all of you! I am deeply appreciated of all your support in the past year, which was essential for many successful and significant accomplishments we achieved in 2018.

As we close out this outstanding year in wushu, I am deeply gratified to look back on 2018’s many remarkable IWUF events and fresh innovations moving our sport ever forward. 
2018 was perhaps our busiest year ever! To begin with, wushu has now been successfully included in three new multi-sport events. The 3rd African Youth Games were held July 22-24, 2018 in Algiers, Algeria, featuring participating athletes from nine African countries. To complement this, wushu also debuted in the 1st Asian-Pacific Masters Games held in Penang, Malaysia September 8-16, 2018. From young to old, the message is clearly spreading that wushu has much to offer people of all ages and abilities around the world.
The 1st World University Championship, held in Macau from July 31 - August 6, became the third addition this year to the IWUF’s expanding multi-sport portfolio, following on the heels of last year’s wushu debut in the Universiade, both organized by FISU. This WUC event not only showcased stellar collegiate talent, but Macau also hosted a fruitful 35th IWUF Executive Board Meeting, held August 3, which voted on and passed several proposals to make technical and structural improvements to the Wushu Taolu Competition rules as part of a continued effort to modernize and standardize the sport of wushu. 
2018 truly flourished for our sport, with four IWUF signature events demonstrating the highest levels of global wushu competition. From July 11-15, 2018, the 7th World Junior Wushu Championships were held in Brasilia, Brazil, marking the first time this IWUF event has been held in South America. This historic milestone saw nearly 700 participants from 42 countries, and helped energize wushu in the entire Southern hemisphere; it shone a bright spotlight on young athletes from around the globe showing tremendous promise for wushu’s future.
The highly successful 3rd World Taijiquan Championships took place in Burgas, Bulgaria, with nearly 600 participants from 34 countries and regions, from September 25 - October 2, 2018. I believe that this compelling IWUF signature taijiquan event has now truly come into its own and established a unique identity that will continue to grow and help promote the sport worldwide.
The Sanda World Cup never fails to thrill spectators and bring wushu’s exciting discipline of sanda to a wider and wider audience. This year’s edition, the 9th Sanda World Cup, held in Hangzhou, China from October 27-28, 2018, saw our best warriors who qualified in the 14th World Wushu Championships in Kazan compete fiercely on the leitai. Sixty athletes from 22 countries and regions battled for this elite cup, and I congratulate Iran on placing first in the medal rankings for the first time in this event’s history. 
With energy, beauty and grace, the 2nd Taolu World Cup culminated our 2018 signature events, celebrating the elite level of wushu’s top taolu champions as 88 athletes from 21 countries met from November 17-18 in Yangon, Myanmar. These premier taolu stars, who also qualified for the TWC in the 14th World Wushu Championships in Kazan, confirmed our strong belief that the IWUF’s competition level is still steadily rising.
To end our 2018 competitions on a bright and celebratory note, I’m happy to see that the inaugural World Wing Chun Open Competition, held in Foshan, China from December 1-2, was a resounding success. With over 1000 participants from dozens of countries, we celebrated the worldwide Wing Chun community coming together for an exchange of kungfu, culture and friendship. This triumphant IWUF test event helped open the door for us to establish platforms in the future for tens of millions of traditional practitioners all around the world to promote their styles. 
Finally, 2018 was especially notable for IWUF’s launch of the first World Wushu Kungfu Day on August 11, which brought together thousands of members of our wushu-kungfu family on every continent with celebrations in clubs and schools, and lively public demonstrations. I consider the establishment of this annual event a distinct milestone for the IWUF, as we remain deeply committed to the ongoing development of the sport of wushu worldwide, and very keen on increasing the proactive engagement of our global wushu-kungfu community. Thanks to all of our members who participated in our first annual WWKD with such heartfelt enthusiasm, and I look forward to celebrating with you again on August 10 in 2019.
I believe that the sport of wushu is stronger than it has ever been. I am inspired by the strong connections our wushu family shares, and the common goals we are all working on as a global community that continue to bind us in our passion and dedication to the sport of wushu.
I very much look forward to seeing you this coming year at two exciting premier IWUF signature events in 2019 – the 8th World Kungfu Championships June 16-20 in Emeishan, China and the 15th World Wushu Championships October 19-23 in Shanghai, China. 

Until then, I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

 Yu Zaiqing

President,  IWUF  

15th World Wushu Championships Logo and Mascot Announced

The 15th World Wushu Championships (WWC) will be held in Shanghai in October of 2019, and preparations are busily underway. The worldwide launch ceremony of the Championships' logo and mascot was recently held at the Minhang Stadium in Shanghai, China on November 23.

IOC Vice President and IWUF President Yu Zaiqing, Shanghai Vice Mayor and 15th WWC Preparatory Committee Director Chen Qun, IWUF Executive Vice President Anthony Goh, President of the Chinese Wushu Association, and IWUF Secretary General Zhang Qiuping, 15th WWC Deputy Director and Shanghai Municipal Government Deputy Secretary General, Zong Ming, Shanghai Municipal Sports Bureau Director and 15th WWC Preparatory Committee Deputy Director, Xu Bin, Shanghai Radio and Television Director and Shanghai Culture, Radio, Film and Television Group President Gao Yunfei, Minhang District Mayor Ni Yaoming and other leaders attended the conference.

     A Worldwide Premiere of the Logo and Mascot: Elevating Wushu

On September 6, 2018, a design competition for the 15th World Wushu Championships' logo and mascot was officially announced. By the deadline on September 30 two weeks later, 227 total submissions both from within China and abroad were received, with 139 logo submissions and 88 for the mascot. The entries showcased a wide range of features and demonstrated a high quality of artistic abilities. Participants' pedigrees ranged widely, from teachers and students at well-known Chinese design schools to professional designers from Japan and India. There were even entries from young wushu enthusiasts who submitted hand-drawn illustrations with crayons and colored pencils -- in their gentle brushstrokes and rich imagination, their understanding of wushu and their best wishes for the 15th WWC were clear. The youngest contributor was only 5 years old! After much deliberation and a final vote by the expert jury of the 15th WWC Preparatory Committee, one winner for the logo and one for the mascot design were selected out of 7 logo and 5 mascot finalists.
WWC gives the first Chinese character in the word "Shanghai" an inspired twist, using artistic elements to bring forth a clear feeling of a dynamic wushu athlete while resembling the shape of the character (

15th WWC - Shanghai Dates Announced!

Following up on the exciting logo and mascot announcement last month for the 2019 15th WWC in Shanghai, China, the dates for the competition have also been confirmed:

the 15th World Wushu Championships will be held October 19-23, 2019.

The WWC is one of the IWUF's six signature events and is held biennially as the highest-level international wushu competition. The 15th WWC will feature both taolu and sanda disciplines, with a total of 48 events, including a new "Creative Artistry" division, and over 900 participants from over60 countries expected to attend; needless to say, this will be a wushu event unlike any other.
Friends, we are looking forward to seeing you in 2019 in Shanghai!

2018 Asian Games: Iran grabs 2 gold, 3 silver medals in Wushu Sanda

Iran’s Wushu practitioners in Sanda discipline have pocketed 2 gold and 3 silver medals on the 5th day of the 2018 Asian Games, which is currently underway in Indonesia.

In Men’s Snada, and minus 60 kg Category Erfan Ahangarian bagged a gold medal after defeating his Chinese opponent. Then Foroud Zafari in the minus 65 kg Category won the silver medal after suffering defeat against his Chinese rival. And finally, Mohsen Mohammadseifi snatched a gold medal in the minus 70 kg Category.

In Women’s Sanda, Elaheh and Shahrbanoo Mansourian grabbed silver medals in the minus 52 and minus 60 kg Categories respectively after being defeated by their Chinese rivals.

Meanwhile, in rowing, Iranian women have won silver and bronze medals in lightweight quadruple sculls and double sculls respectively.

Wushu Practitioner Ahangarian Wins Iran’s Eighth Gold at Asian Games

Iranian wushu practitioner Erfan Ahangarian claimed a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games on Thursday.

He defeated Chinese Wang Xuetao 2-1 in the final match of the -60kg and claimed a gold medal.

Iranian athletes had already won seven gold medals in the Games.

Saeid Rajabi in +80kg and Mirhashem Hosseini in 63kg had won two gold medals in taekwondo.

Hassan Yazdani (86kg), Alireza Karimi (97kg) and Parviz Hadi (125kg) snatched three gold medals in wrestling freestyle.

Iranian Greco-Roman wrestlers Mohammad Ali Geraei in 77kg and Hossein Nouri in 87kg had also seized two gold medals.

The 2018 Asian Games, officially known as the 18th Asian Games and also known as Jakarta Palembang 2018, is a pan-Asian multi-sport event scheduled to be held from 18 August to 2 September in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

The athletes compete in 465 events across 40 sports and 67 disciplines.

Iran wushu team wins int’l peace and friendship champs

Iranian wushu team ranked first at the international peace and friendship championships held in Zahedan, the capital city of the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

The event was held with the attendance of 150 athletes from India, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, Head of Sistan-Baluchestan Province wushu committee Abbas Shibak told IRNA on Sunday night.

In both male and female categories, India and Afghanistan ranked second and third respectively, he said.

Wushu is a martial art and a full-contact sport. It was developed in China after 1949, in an effort to standardize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts, although attempts to structure the various decentralized martial arts traditions date back earlier, when the Central Guoshu Institute was established at Nanking in 1928.

Ojaghi: Wushu training improving national football team players performance abilities and fighting spirit

Hossein Ojaghi ,Iran National Wushu Head Coach after joining Iran National Football team as new coach emphasized: Our aim to teach Wushu to national football players is the fighting spirit, consideration, self-confidence and quick decision making of them improve.

He continues; after invitation from Carlos Queiroz, Iran national football team manager, we arranged a meeting and he described his goals regarding our cooperation. Queiroz is very well-known coach and he has experience of using martial arts coaches in Portugal national, Spanish club Real Madrid, and at English club Manchester United.

Ojaghi said: Since two weeks ago, I’m participating in Iran National football team training session, and trying to implement our objectives.

In reply to question till when you will cooperate with Iran Football team, he said: Carlos Queiroz wants I stay with them till their last day training in Iran before 2018 FIFA World Cup which will take place in Russia.

He also regarding national football players’ feedback regarding his Wushu training said; till today their cooperation was very high, and they are satisfied with my training methods.

Carlos Queiroz added Iran Wushu champion in his staff

Iran national team manager Carlos Queiroz recruited Wushu champion Hossein Ojaghi in his staff.

Iran sealed his place in 2018 world cup easily but Portuguese manager knows that his team will have a more difficult mission in Russia with Portugal, Spain and Morocco await “Team Melli” in the group stage.

So he decides to add Wushu champion Hossein Ojaghi to bring more fighting spirit in his team. Ojighi is former world champion and currently works as Iran Wushu national team manager.

It’s not for first time that Queiroz recruited a martial art coach to his team. He did it before 2014 World cup too and that positive experience encourages him to do it again.

Iran finishes runner-up in 14th World Wushu Championships

Iranian male and female wushu practitioners have displayed extraordinary physical and mental skills at the 14th edition of World Wushu Championships, and managed to finish in the second place overall at the prestigious tournament.

Having won eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals, the Islamic Republic of Iran stood behind China, with 15 gold medals at the conclusion of the competitions at the Gymnastics Palace of Universiade Village in the western Russian city of Kazan.

Hong Kong collected five gold, three silver and three bronze medals to secure the third place.

On Tuesday evening, Elaheh Mansourian won the gold medal after beating Luan Thi Hoang of Vietnam in the final contest of women’s minus 52-kilogram category.

The Iranian wushu champion had earlier triumphed over representatives from Indonesia and South Korea in her march to the gold medal bout.

The Iranian men’s duelin Taolu team

Moreover, the Iranian men’s duelin Taolu team recorded convincing victories, and picked up the gold medal with a total score of 9.61 points. It was followed by the South Korean squad with 9.48 points. Ukraine garnered 9.47 points and claimed the third spot.

Additionally, Haniyeh Rajabi tallied 9.45 points to grab the bronze medal in the Shuang Jian (double straight sword) form of Taolu competitions.

Iranian wushu practitioner Haniyeh Rajabi

A female contestant from Hong Kong notched up 9.62 points to collect the gold. A representative from Ukraine got the silver medal with 9.47 points.

Also on Tuesday, Shahrbanou Mansourian took the honors after beating her Egyptian opponent in the final contest of women’s minus 65-kilogram category of the Sanda (sparring) discipline.

Iranian wushu practitioner Shahrbanou Mansourian

Mansourian had earlier overcome a representative from India to march into the title showpiece.

In the women’s minus 70-kilogram category, Maryam Hashemi prevailed over her Philippine rival and got the gold medal.

Iranian wushu practitioner Maryam Hashemi

Hashemi then announced that she had brought down the curtains on her professional wushu career.

Iranian wushu practitioner Mohsen Mohammadseifi

Later in the tournament, Mohsen Mohammadseifi collected the gold medal in the men’s minus 70-kilogram section after he defeated his Egyptian opponent.

Iranian wushu practitioner Yousef Sabri

Yousef Sabri overpowered a contestant from Macau in the men's minus 75-kilogram class of the Sanda section, and was awarded the gold medal. 

Iranian wushu practitioner Moein Taghavi

Moein Taghavi beat his Belarusian opponent in the final match of men's minus 85-kilogram category and won the gold medal. 

Iranian wushu practitioner Milad Arefi Magham

Furthermore, Milad Arefi Magham overcame a representative from Egypt in the title contest of men’s minus 90-kilogram division, and struck the yellow medal.

Iranian wushu practitioner Hamid Reza Qolipour

Hamid Reza Qolipour, however, lost to a competitor from China in the final bout of men’s over 90-kilogram weight category, and received the silver medal.

Sanda, sometimes called Sanshou or Lei tai, has all the combat aspects of wushu, but includes many more grappling techniques.

The 14th edition of World Wushu Championships kicked off on September 27, and concluded on October 3, 2017.

14th WWC Live Broadcast Schedule

This year the 14th World Wushu Championships is being broadcast live on four platforms: YouTube, QQ, Sina, and LeSports. See below for daily broadcast schedules and information on how to access them; if you're unable to be here in person, we hope you'll join us online! And, remember, follow our social media pages for up-to-date information on competition results, live stream updates, and everything WWC.