Asia

Meet Afghanistan's 'Bruce Lee'

  • 11 December 2014
  • From the section Asia
Abbas Alizada at Darul Aman palace

Just a few weeks ago, Abbas Alizada was a just another young Afghan with little money and big dreams.

But after posting a picture on Facebook of himself striking a pose next to martial arts legend Bruce Lee, the Kung Fu fan from a Kabul suburb has shot to social media fame.

There is still little money, but the 21-year-old's hopes are sky-high after the post went viral.

Media captionAfghanistan's answer to Bruce Lee

The photo montage is subtitled "Old dragon - New dragon" and shows Abbas looking remarkably like his Hollywood hero.

Abbas Alizada was 14 when he got hooked on Bruce Lee action movies.

Martial arts heroes like Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee have always been popular in Afghanistan and films are easily available on local bazaars.

Abbas - like many other young fans - tried out the moves and was keen to learn the sport properly.

For a few months he trained at a Kabul sports club, but the family did not have the money for him to continue.

Instead, Abbas worked out at home.

Image caption Abbas models himself on Bruce Lee but says his idol won't be repeated
Image caption His father doesn't have the money to help Abbas train

Now he has finished secondary school, but his family is poor and further studies are out of the question.

The situation became even harder after his father Mohammad Reza suffered a stroke which left him partially paralysed.

But the family hopes Abbas can fulfil his ambitions:

"My son started with nothing when he was 14 because we were poor and couldn't register him at a club," Mohammad Reza says.

"I pray to God that my son can reach his dreams, that he becomes the Bruce Lee of his time."

And Abbas Alizada is not just good at striking poses.

Image caption Abbas can handle the chain sticks, made famous by the actor

By studying the films, he learned Bruce Lee's moves and how to handle the "Nunchaku" chain sticks, made famous by the actor.

And Abbas was happy to show off his skills.

In the setting of Kabul's iconic Darul Aman palace he performed sequences from Bruce Lee's best-known films, Fist of Fury and Way of the Dragon.

"I want you to take some photographs," he said, "so people believe that I am an Afghan Bruce Lee."

Abbas says he wants to become a famous martial artist or an actor, though he adds he doesn't think he could ever rival his idol.

But he certainly has caught people's attention.

His phone keeps ringing and he receives hundreds of friend requests and messages every day.

Image caption The picture which shot Abbas Alizada (right) to fame

"Some people say they are proud of me," he tells me. "Some others think my photos are photo-shopped, and some ask me to meet them."

For now Abbas is just proud that he has caused a Bruce Lee mini-revival.

"Bruce Lee is a model for our society, as an athlete and as a character," he says. "He won't be repeated and I may not be Bruce Lee, but I'll continue on his way until I am dead."

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