Facing certain death on the front lines of the Iran-Iraq War, 17 year-old Ali Jahani is smuggled out of Iran and sent to live with his uncle in the small Northern California town of Petaluma. It's 1980, the midst of the Iran hostage crisis. The front page of every newspaper has images of blindfolded hostages or Iranians burning American flags. Upon his arrival, Ali is faced with a different kind of adversity - Racial discrimination and bullying. Ali's uncle, Hafez, embittered from being ostracized by his community, also doesn't want him there. He feels Ali has brought bad luck with him from Iran.
Rejected by everyone, but determined to fit in and to make a new life for himself, Ali decides that joining a school sports team will make him seem 'like everyone else.' After failed tries at basketball and football, Ali impresses Coach Plyler and makes it onto the school's floundering Wrestling team.