great post! thanks so much
ABC features Jim Bakhtiar - All American Football Player 1957 UVA
One of the proudest times for my grandparents Helen and Abol Ghassem Bakhtiar and indeed for all of my mother’s family was when my Uncle Jamshid was named the first Iranian All-American football player back in 1957 at the University of Virginia. Jim, as he was known, was selected by Look Magazine and the Football Writers of America. He appeared on “The Perry Como Show” in New York as well as “To Tell the Truth.” He was also honored at the Washington, D.C. Touchdown club as the outstanding area college player of the year, and was chosen for the Sportsman Award for the State of Virginia through the Bedford, Virginia Athletic Club.
His All-American title made him a hero inside Iran. The summer before his senior year, a Bakhtiari Khan arranged for my uncle Jamshid to visit several sports clubs in cities around Iran. The Shah of Iran presented him with a beautiful silver bowl through his ambassador, Mr. Ali Amini, in Washington D.C.
His accomplishments in the game attracted the Voice of America that began broadcasting his games to Iran. My grandfather Abol Ghassem, an American trained physician, loved sitting by the radio in Iran to hear the outcome of his son’s games and his successes on the football team. In a letter to Jamshid, Abol wrote: “I long to see you in one of the football games when you are in actual combat. I don’t think that I could bear to sit down and watch you without running on the field to help you carry the ball. To Jamshid Bakhtiar from this side of the ocean—Rah! Rah! Rah!” (February 4, 1954)
My grandfather was so excited, proud, honored to have his son playing American football with such success. One of his games was against West Point Military Academy, where he played exceptionally well. The game was shown in between the feature films at a movie theater in the city of Abadan where my grandfather lived. While the movie clip was being shown, my grandfather got up in the middle of the theater and acknowledged Jamshid as being the player and loudly cheered him as if he was at the game.
My grandmother Helen went to visit my Uncle Jamshid in Charlottesville, VA in 1958. There, Helen was interviewed by a local radio station about her son’s accomplishments. The radio announcer, Mrs. Brown, asked my grandmother: “Your son, Jim Bakhtiar brought to us this interest in Iran. It was a happy day for the University of Virginia when he decided to come and study here and I think, Mrs. Bakhtiar, and you will appreciate this being the mother of Jim, when they began to give him the name ‘The Prince,’ that I felt that he is just tops. Would you tell us a little about him that he wouldn’t say about himself?”
Helen responded: “Well, being a mother, of course, I am very prejudiced and I could say a great deal about Jim. I happened to be in Iran when Jim was making his name in football in the States. In fact, I was in the home of some friends when I heard his voice coming over the radio, the Voice of America. Jim’s games were broadcast in Iran and there were people I met later in small villages in Iran who had heard about Jim Bakhtiar.”
Jamshid was featured on ABC as part of a special called CINGULAR ALL-AMERICAN on Saturday December 9th. He has been one of the inspirational forces in my life.
Listen to a podcast with Jim Bakhtiar:
(3) Comments •
reading this article will make you proud to be an iranian
Posted by sousan shekarian on 12/09 at 08:04 PM
This is nice article. Nice to know that no matter what or where, if your great player, your the best.
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Posted by Jamien on 12/10 at 11:42 PM
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