Abbas Alizada, known as the “Bruce Lee of Afghanistan”, fled the Taliban regime, dreamed of visiting the city of Hong Kong and starting acting in films.

Abbas Alizada saw his first Bruce Lee movie in Afghanistan when he was eight years old. Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee’s horror movie was his favorite action movie of all time.

His resemblance to Hong Kong-born Bruce Lee and his love of martial arts convinced him to put his energy and time into the sport. He aspired to become the Bruce Lee of Afghanistan and act in movies in Hollywood and elsewhere.

In 2014, Alizada rose to social media fame after her photos circulated on Facebook. Her striking resemblance to Lee did not go unnoticed. She later gained popularity as the Afghan Bruce Lee.

Things changed pretty quickly for Alizada. TV channels exhibited and interviewed him, and then celebrity tours of the region began. He was offered a role in Hollywood as negotiations are still ongoing. Alizada practiced for hours in a makeshift gym at his home on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul.

However, with the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, things took a turn for the worse for movie stars and musicians. He feared for his survival and his family’s. His wife also has a brown belt in karate.

Alizada is a member of the Hazara group, one of the largest ethnic groups in Afghanistan that has long faced violence and discrimination under different regimes. Hazaras and Shias are discriminated against simply because of their religious beliefs and their different interpretations of the faith.

Alizada’s resemblance to Bruce Lee gave him popularity and now made him a legitimate target for the de facto authorities in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the life of his wife was also in grave danger as the Taliban had completely erased women from the public arena.

“If I had been caught, I would have been punished,” Alizada, now 29, said by video call from the British city of Manchester, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

Alizada’s London-based lawyer, Mahtab Aziz, and a British charity helped Alizada and her family flee the war-torn country.

Alizada is being trained by Samuel Kwok, the Hong Kong-born, UK-based martial arts master taught by Ip Chun, the eldest son of Ip Man who taught Bruce Lee. Alizada’s manager, Hong Kong native Howard Lee, is seeking financial sponsorship to bring Alizada to Hong Kong, the city where Bruce Lee spent most of his life and where he died in 1973 at just 32 years old.

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