Matthew Granahan, known in wrestling and fighting circles as The Granimal, is an author, professional wrestler, competitive submission wrestler, trainer and reality television star. The Granimal was raised in Connecticut and began wrestling at age 12. In college Granimal was a varsity swimmer at Fairfield University excelling in the 50 meter freestyle and men’s medley relay. Granimal was also a member of Fairfield’s Men’s Freestyle wrestling club and studied Judo in the summers at Asahi Judo in Danbury, CT. While in college Granimal competed in several Judo and USA Freestlyle Wrestling events. Granimal’s amateur wrestling career reached a zenith in 1999 when he captured the Nutmeg Games Open Freestlye Wrestling championship. The recognition of this win and Granimal’s frequent appearances on the Latin Dance program Que Chevre enabled him to become a special guest referee at several independent pro wrestling events in Connnecticut. Granimal brought a unique shoot wrestling style to pro wrestling and he began teaming up with his boyhood friend Michael Consolati in a tag team known as the Demolishers.
Granimal also starred in the 2002 cable fishing show Let’s Go Fishing alongside bikini model and horror movie actress Rachel Robbins. The show ran on the America One network and was cancelled after one season. Granimal’s day job moved him to Virginia in 2004 and later to Texas and South Carolina. He stayed close to grappling training with Akari Judo in Richmond and later WNC Combat Club in Arden, North Carolina. While training at WNC Combat Granimal was introduced to catch wrestling for the first time and met carnival wrestling legend Billy Wicks and later carnival wrestlers Frank Cain and Red Bastien. Granimal’s friendship with these carnival legends had a profound influence on his grappling style and he approached friend Erik Paulson about a book the two are now completing called Rough and Tumble: The History of American Submission Wrestling. Erik Paulson was the first American Shooto champion in Japan and is the trainer of mma greats Brock Lesnar, Josh Barnett, Sean Sherk and Renato Sobral.
In 2009 the Granimal captured the Florida and Southeast submission wresting titles and continued pro wrestling for APW in SC and Pro Wrestling Fusion in FL under the name Hussain Hassan Vaziri the supposed illegitimate son of the Iron Sheik. Though billed as an Iranian Granimal is acually of Sicilian and 1/4 Irish descent. Granimal has said that he has great respect for Iron Sheik and Kamal Shalorus and feels that Iranians are the greatest wrestlers in the world hence his desire to play an Iranian in pro wrestling. Granimal’s HH Vaziri character has caused internet rumors that he was the inspiration for the Ayatollah character in the movie the Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke. This is due to Granimal’s reputation as a shoot style pro wrestler and Ayatollah’s remark “you be the face and I’ll be the heel” when asked by Rourke’s character what he was planning for the match. Red Line Films, producers of “Dhani Tackles the Globe” is developing for a reality show starring Granimal and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper called “The Mighty Granimal.” The press packet for the show indicates Granimal would travel the country with an entourage challenging local tough guys to different types of fighting.