Iranian wrestler executed despite outcry

first_imgIranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed on Saturday after being convicted of stabbing a security guard to death during anti-government protests in 2018, state media said, in a case that has sparked international outcry.“Afkari was executed after legal procedures were carried out at the insistence of the parents and the family of the victim,” the media quoted the head of the justice department in southern Fars province, Kazem Mousavi, as saying. Afkari was convicted of killing Hassan Turkman, a water company security guard.The case sparked international outcry, including from US president Donald Trump and UFC boss Dana White to spare the 27-year-old.White admitted last week that he was trying to use his connections in the White House to spare Afkari’s life, saying: “The New York Times wrote a story this week about a famous wrestler from Iran called Navid Afkari. He went to a peaceful protest in Iran and he’s going to be executed for that.“The only thing I could think to do was to call the President and see if he could help this man. He said: ‘Let us look into it, let me talk to my administration and see if there is something we can to do save his life.’“Today the President tweeted the tweet attached to this video and I would like to say I too respectfully and humbly ask the government officials in Iran to not execute this man and spare his life.” However, Iran’s Supreme Court rejected a review of the case in late August, according to state media.Afkari, a 27-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler, had said he was tortured into making a false confession, according to his family and activists, and his attorney says there is no proof of his guilt.Iran’s judiciary has denied Afkari’s claims.A global union representing 85,000 athletes called on Tuesday for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executed Afkari.Afkari’s case had sparked an outcry from Iranians on social media and human rights groups. US President Donald Trump also called on Iran this month not to execute the wrestler.Iranian state television aired a video last week in which Afkari appeared to confess to Turkman’s killing.State television showed what appeared to be written confessions by Afkari, but he said in a recording circulated on social media that he was coerced into signing the documents.“I hit twice, once and then again,” Afkari was shown saying with a stabbing gesture during a police reconstruction of the killing.RelatedPosts Tyson Fury’s dad accepts challenge from bodybuilder Israel Adesanya wins interim middleweight title Mayweather denies ‘billion dollar’ fight  Along with his two brothers, Afkari faced more than 20 charges, including “attending illegal gatherings, assembly and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security and insulting the supreme leader”.Bahie Namju, the mother of the three men found guilty, put out her own video pleading for help to save her sons last week.“I’m desperately asking for help from anyone who can hear my voice,” Namju said.Tags: Dana WhiteKazem MousaviNavid Afkarilast_img read more

BATTLE TESTED: All eyes are on Tyus Battle this season as he tries to develop into the alpha that Syracuse needs

first_imgIn the opening moments of Syracuse’s first exhibition game this season, against Division II Southern New Hampshire, Tyus Battle heard from himself the same things others had been telling him for years. The Orange trailed by five and, in its last five possessions, had missed one shot and turned the ball over four times. Looking around, the playmakers Battle had depended on last year were gone. At 20, he was the leader of a program usually reliant on its veterans.Practically since he learned to dribble, those close to Battle wanted him to be more “selfish.” Battle prefers the word “aggressive.” Either way, he heard it last season as a freshman at Syracuse and for years before. He heard it from coaches and teammates. He heard it in youth hoops and high school and playing internationally for USA Basketball. He heard it from his dad.Battle sized up his undersized defender, drove and and with each step he closed in on the player his old coaches wanted and his new coaches needed. Rather than spin or pull-up, Battle went over the defender for a lay up. That bucket sparked a 22-0 run in Syracuse’s eventual win.“Toward the end of my freshman season,” Battle said, “I started to get the green light from coach (to shoot more). This season, that’s how I have to play right away.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat’s because Syracuse needs Battle’s best for a shot at success. Due to a transfer, exhausted eligibility and the NBA draft, Syracuse lost five of its six most-played players and about 43 of the 57 shots it took as a team per game last season. The Orange now fills that void with four true freshmen, a redshirt freshman, a graduate transfer, a junior climbing back from point-guard purgatory and a redshirt junior whose multiple eye surgeries limited him to seven games last season. And Battle.,With that roster, expectations plummeted. Syracuse did not receive a single vote in the preseason Top 25 and, in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll, the Orange’s peers ranked it 10th in the conference, the program’s lowest projected finish since it has played in a league with at least 10 teams.Now, Battle knows he’ll be the focal point of opponents’ scouting reports and teammates looking for leadership. Added attention from opponents forces the athletic, slashing guard to reckon with the crux of his game: When to be selfless and when to be selfish.“He’s a wait-and-see-how-it-goes kid,” his father, Gary Battle, said. “He feels out (the situation) and then he explodes. This year, we can’t really afford that.”In taking control, Battle realizes the vision he had for himself in July 2015 when he committed to Syracuse. He explained to ESPN: “(The coaches) told me I could be a versatile guard who could have the ball in my hands a lot.”This also puts Battle in the role that Gary has often sought for his son and said he would excel in.In summer 2014, Battle switched from an AAU team in Philadelphia to Team Scan in the Bronx, at least in part because the coach promised Gary to play Battle at point guard. After nearly every game, Gary and his son analyzed what had worked and what didn’t. Often Gary couldn’t wait, opting to direct Battle from the stands. “Take control!” or “That’s your shot!” Gary often yelled, said Reeves Wiedeman, a journalist who chronicled that AAU season.“The whole summer was about getting Tyus to take charge,” Wiedeman said. “He was the best athlete compared to the other guards, but that was his challenge. (Other guards) wanted the ball, and they were tougher and grittier. He was more reserved about it, because that’s who he was personality-wise.”Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorIn fall 2015, for his senior year, Battle transferred from Gill St. Bernard’s (New Jersey) High School to St. Joseph’s (New Jersey) High School, a local basketball power. That season, Battle averaged 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He won New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year. Yet in the last game of the Falcons season, the South Jersey Non-Public A title game against St. Augustine, Battle mostly distributed from the Falcons’ motion offense.In the stands, athletic director Jerry Smith thought, “Jesus, please let him shoot more.” At halftime, Smith waited outside the locker room as he had a few times that season. When the team emerged, Smith said, he pulled Battle off to the side and again implored him to be more selfish. Battle never attempted more than 10 shots in a game in high school, Smith said.“This is not the NBA,” he remembered telling his team’s star guard. “We need for you to take over the game as soon as you possibly can. This is not (Michael Jordan) letting everyone touch it.”Battle broke into his usual big smile, Smith remembered, and said, “I got you.”“When someone tells me to take over,” Battle said recently, “I love it. That just means go get a bucket. I love moments like that. … That green light is amazing. It’s fluorescent green.”Last season, Syracuse averaged 57 shots per game. This season, it returns 14 shots per game. The Orange needs Tyus Battle to step into that void. Photo illustration by Sam Lee | Staff Photographer Battle scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. On the last play of the game, with the Falcons down two, Battle drove for the lane and seemed to gain a step on his defender. But then another defender slid in front of him. Smith thought Battle was going to attack the basket and draw a foul, but Battle pulled up and turned away from the hoop. He rifled a pass to his friend Breein Tyree, who hoisted a 3 for the win. The shot fell short. Battle doubled over as if he were about to be sick.“Tyus is just a really, really unselfish kid,” Tyree said recently. “Sometimes he struggled with knowing when to score and when to pass. It wasn’t a major problem, though, because there are other ways to win.”Now, Syracuse will likely lean on Battle more than a team ever has before. His teammates last year knew this might happen and tried to prepare him for it, said former Syracuse forward Andrew White, because they saw the initial hesitancy.White tried to serve as a big brother “without overdoing it,” and he understood that freshmen often hear things like, “Be unselfish!” and “Make the extra pass!” So, he reminded Battle everything the offense did was to help the team score. If Battle put the Orange in the best position to do that, then he should shoot.“He passed up a lot of shots early on,” White said. “As a team, we said, ‘Hey Tyus, it’s alright if you shoot on an open shot.’ We wanted him to be confident and make plays, because once we got (to ACC play), we depended on him to score.”Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorIn ACC play, opponents swarmed the Orange’s top scoring options, so Battle throttled up. He increased his minutes per game from 23.6 in nonconference to 35.7, and he attempted double-digit shots nine times, compared with just once in nonconference play. Last season, when Duke guarded Battle “like he was the forgotten stepchild,” White said, the veteran forward knew his 18 points meant more. White saw Battle growing into the player he needs to be this season.That mentality extended into the summer, Battle said, as he realized he needed to lead the team. Battle is his own biggest challenge this season, his father said, and that he needs to ensure he leads vocally and not just through action.“I’m a laid-back guy, kind of shy, so this is something I really have to work on,” Battle said. “But I think I’m improving with it. It was tough at first, but you know… I have to do it. I’m accepting the challenge.”Then, in Syracuse’s first exhibition, the buzzer sounded and Tyus Battle, the player who has never been the player he’s supposed to be this season, got that much closer. He was, on the first night, everything he said he would be. He was Syracuse’s alpha in beta.Banner photo illustration by Sam Lee | Staff Photographer Comments Published on November 5, 2017 at 11:07 pm Contact Sam: | @Sam4TR,Comments are closed.last_img read more

LBA 2017 Takes Centre Stage in Lagos

first_imgThe 2017 League Bloggers Awards (LBA) end-of-season ceremony is expected to parade the most outstanding performers from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NNL), the Nigeria National League (NNL) and the Nigeria Women’s Premier League (NWPL) when it holds at the Sheraton Hotel in Lagos next Tuesday week.Coaches, clubs and players will vie for recognition in 12 categories at this year’s LBA.The 13th category of the award which is the top goalscorer in the Nigeria top-flight, the NPFL, has already been decided. Lobi Stars forward Anthony Okpotu scored 19 goals last season, one more than MFMFC’s Stephen Odey now with Swiss club FC Zurich, to emerge top scorer.Top among the highlights of the award night will be the prestigious Player of the Season which recognises the best player in the NPFL in the past campaign. Odey, Okpotu, Alhassan Ibrahim and Plateau United defender Daniel Itodo are the shortlists for the NPFL Player of the Season.This year, the LBA has added two new category to cater for the women’s league and the second tier, the NNL. The awards will recognise the best players in the women’s championship and the NNL.Amarachi Okonkwo of Nasarawa Amazons, Patience Kalu of Rivers Angels, FC Robo’s Rasheedat Ajibade and Charity Reuben of Ibom Angels are the nominees for the Best NWPL Player.In the Best NNL Player category, Heartland goalkeeper Ebere Obi, Kwara United free-scoring forward Michael Ohanu, Mohammed Rabiu of Yobe Desert Stars and Bayelsa United’s Kelly Lubo are in the running.Other categories on the night include Best New Player, Best Foreigner, Best Goalkeeper, Best Defender, Best Midfielder, Club of the Year, Coach of the Year, Best NPFL National Team Player and Goal of theSeasonNOMINEES FOR CATEGORIES1. BEST NEW PLAYER*Chinedu Udechukwu (Katsina United)*Destiny Ashadi (Katsina United)*Peter Eneji (Plateau United)*Oche Salefu (Remo Stars)*Wasiu Alalade (ABS FC)2. BEST FOREIGNER*Giscard Tchatto (MFM FC)*Kodjovi Dadzie (Akwa United)* Fatau Dauda (Enyimba)*Idrissa Bamba (FC Ifeanyiubah)3. BEST GOALKEEPER*Aliko Mustapha (Niger Tornadoes)*Olorunleke Ojo (Sunshine Stars/Akwa United)*Dele Ajiboye (Plateau Utd)*Suraj Ayeleso (Nasarawa Utd)4. BEST DEFENDER*Emmanuel Ariwachukwu (Akwa United)*Daniel Itodo (Plateau United)*Elisha Golbe (Plateau United)*Okorom Stanley (MFM FC)5. BEST MIDFIELDER*Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa United)*Afeez Aremu (Akwa United)*Onuwa Chukwuka (MFM FC)*Batholomew Ibenegbu (Enyimba)*Samuel Matthias (Gombe United)6. CLUB OF THE YEAR*Plateau United*MFM FC*Enyimba*Akwa United7. COACH OF THE YEAR*Kennedy Boboye (Plateau Utd)*Abdu Maikaba (Akwa Utd)*Duke Udi (Sunshine Stars)*Fidelis Ilechukwu (MFM FC)8. BEST NPFL NATIONAL TEAM PLAYER*Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC Ifeanyiubah)*Osas Okoro (Rangers)*Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Akwa Utd)*Rabiu Ali (Kano Pillars)*Afeez Aremu (Akwa United)9. GOAL OF THE SEASON*Sikiri Olatunbosun (MFM v Rangers)*Shedrack Asiegbu (Abia Warriors v Plateau United)*Victor Chidume (Lobi Stars v Remo Stars)10. BEST NWPL PLAYER*Amarachi Okonkwo (Nasarawa Amazons)*Patience Kalu (Rivers Angels)*Rasheedat Ajibade (FC Robo)*Charity Reuben (Ibom Angels)11. BEST NNL PLAYER*Ebere Obi (Heartland)*Michael Ohanu (Kwara United)*Mohammed Rabiu (Yobe Desert Stars)*Kelly Lubo (Bayelsa United)12 HIGHEST GOAL SCORER*Anthony Okpotu (Lobi Stars) 19 Goals13. PLAYER OF THE SEASON* Alhassan Ibrahim (Akwa Utd)*Anthony Okpotu (Lobi Stars)*Daniel Itodo (Plateau United)*Stephen Odey (MFM FC)Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more