Football, basketball, and volleyball are the most popular team sports. Koshti (wrestling) has a long tradition in Iran and is considered the national sport. Pahlavani-style wrestling is a traditional discipline, which combines physical training for moral and martial purposes.

Because of economic sanctions, the annual government’s budget for sport was about $80 million in 2010 or about $1 per person.


Bodybuilding in Iran is very popular among the younger generation. Some professional bodybuilders of Iranian descent include Javad Nabavi, Mohamad Farokh, Ali Tabrizi, Hamid Manafi and Zohair Al Karbelaie.

Martial arts

Martial arts have gained popularity in Iran in the past 20 years. Kyokushin, shotokan, wushu, and taekwondo are the most popular. One can find a dojo from almost every martial arts style in Iran, with large numbers of followers. The Kung Fu To’a originated in Iran, though banned after the Iranian Revolution.


In volleyball, Iran has a national team, and a professional league. The Iran national volleyball team is among the strongest teams in the world, and the Iranian Youth and Junior (Under-19 and Under-21) national teams are among the top three strongest teams in the world, winning medals in Boys’ U19 Volleyball World Championship and Men’s U21 Volleyball World Championship in recent years. In the 2007 Men’s U21 Volleyball World Championship, the Iranians were successful at earning a bronze medal. Also, in late August 2007, the Iran national under-19 volleyball team surprised many by winning the gold medal in the Volleyball World Championship in Mexico, after beating France and China in the semi-finals and finals respectively and marking the first such international gold medal for an Iranian team sport.


Futsal is practiced both at the amateur and professional level, partly because of lacking suitable soccer fields. The Iran national futsal team, that presently is the fourth strongest national team after Brazil, Spain and Italy according to the FIFA Rankings.

This team has won the AFC Futsal Championship nine times out of the ten times held and reached five times to FIFA Futsal World Cup. Iran also has a nationwide Super Futsal League.