Watch the 'Afghan Bruce Lee': Abbas Alizada (+video)
The young Bruce Lee look-alike wants his nunchakus and bowl haircut to become an alternative to Afghanistan war-torn image.
Meet Abbas Alizada.
Look familiar? The young Afghan man with an uncanny resemblance to Bruce Lee is trying to spin, kick, and flip his way to fame, which he hopes will show a different side to his war-torn nation.
The 20-year-old gained minor Internet fame in Afghanistan this week after photos and videos of him flipping through the air and striking an iconic Bruce Lee pose were posted to a Facebook page made by local supporters.
What do swirling nunchakus and a bowl haircut do for the wiry kid performing pushups on his fingertips?
"I want to be a champion in my country and a Hollywood star," Alizada told Reuters at a desolate palace in Kabul where he trains twice a week.
Alizada comes from a poor family of 10 children, and the cost of classes at a Chinese mixed martial art academy were out of the questions, but a trainer saw promise in him.
And Alizada sees promise in Afghanistan.
"The destruction here makes me sad, but it also inspires me," he said.
He recently earned the top rank in his category in a Washu competition in Kabul, the news site Afghan Zariza reported.
But now photos of him showing off Kung Fu moves a la young Bruce Lee have made him a local – and growing – hit.
He's been dubbed "Bruce Hazara" – a nod to his ethnic heritage – but he rejects that label from his friends, preferring "Afghan Bruce Lee" as a departure from tribal divides, according to Reuters.
Questions of national unity are poignant in Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents are flexing their muscles with near-daily attacks. This year has been the bloodiest of the war, as foreign troops drastically reduce their presence.
Alizada’s recent success on the Internet and at a martial arts tournament in Kabul reflects some of the changes in the country since the U.S.-led intervention toppled the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Helped by the spread of TV and the Internet, Afghanistan has witnessed a rapid rise in interest in sports under the government that succeeded the hard-line Islamists, who had banned television and many sports and martial arts.
Alizada said he wants to see news about something other than war coming out of his country.
"I am happy that my story is a positive one," he said.