The stories of Israeli champion judoka Sagi Muki and his friend Saeid Mollaei, who fled his native Iran after refusing an order not to fight Muki in international competition, are being turned into a TV series.
The project is being jointly produced by MGM/UA Television and Israel’s Tadmor Entertainment, with help from the International Judo Federation, Deadline recently reported. The report does not include a release date or the network that will air it.
In 2019, Mollaei said his handlers tried to force him to throw matches at that year’s judo world championship in Tokyo so he would not have to face the Israeli Muki, who went on to win the tournament. Mollaei feared for his life after defying his trainers and fled to Germany, where he achieved refugee status. He now competes for Mongolia, and both he and Muki competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Sagi Muki and Saeid Mollaei are both inspiring and groundbreaking athletes whose rivalry and impossible friendship has transcended the world of judo to captivate sports fans and hearts across the globe,” MGM/UA Television President Steve Stark told Deadline.
A documentary about the duo is also in production.
The news came on the same day that the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided to overturn the International Judo Federation’s ban on Iranian judokas that it laid down after the 2019 scandal. Iranian athletes are again allowed to compete in international contests, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
MGM/UA Television also announced Monday an American series on the life of Golda Meir, the only female prime minister in Israeli history, starring Shira Haas.
Gabe Freidman is a contributing writer to JTA and Jlife magazine.