Mr. Abedi: Refugee of the Iranian Revolution

To some he is their favorite Spanish teacher, and to others the wrestling coach; however, Mr. Abedi has accomplished far more than meets the eye. What many do not know about Mr. Abedi, is what shaped him into the individual he is today.

Born and raised in Iran around the time of the Iranian Revolution, Mr. Abedi has experienced far greater turmoil during his teenage years than most of us would experience throughout an entire lifetime. Abedi was only 25 when he made his escape from Iran.

Fortunately, he had qualified to wrestle in the War Championship Military in Caracas, Venezuela in 1982, otherwise known as his “ticket to freedom.” He saw this as a great opportunity, as it cost a lot to travel, and his parents didn’t have much.

Abedi escaped with two other wrestlers to Madrid, Spain, where he got in contact with the American Embassy. Allowed to travel under political asylum, Abedi arrived in San Francisco in 1984.

From there, he went to San Jose, where he began working only 10 days later. Working from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM at a factory assembling parts, and from 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM at a gas station, Abedi worked incredibly hard from the beginning: “It was the toughest thing I had to do, but I had to because I had no money.”

Knowing zero English, Abedi preferred the little interaction of his night shift at the gas station. However, he still requested that his fellow factory workers speak to him only in English, so he could learn quickly.

Abedi soon found comfort in wrestling at San Jose State, which was “a great experience for [him], as all [his] friends knew him as an athlete. They cared for [him] as a person, and not because [he is] Iranian.”

While in San Jose, Abedi began coaching. Through this, he realized his passion for working with high schoolers, and decided to move towards teaching.

In the Summer of 1994, Abedi attended a job fair at Dana Hills High School, and viewed it as a wonderful place to work. The principal informed him that there was only a coaching job available, so he declined. Nonetheless, in October, they called him back offering a teaching job in Spanish, Physical Education, and a coaching job for wrestling.

Abedi’s love for working with children has only grown since then, commenting that it “keeps you young.”

Former DHHS teacher and current junior high assistant principal Kristin Orloff wrote the book, American Wings Iranian Roots. Abedi substantially contributed to the year-long writing and editing process.

Most recently, Abedi was admitted into the National Hall of Fame for wrestling last March, 2018. The hall’s committee selects seven coaches each year to “pay tribute to what wrestling has to offer and who shares that with young people day in and day out.”

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