Sadam Chakari still remembers the days when the Taliban banned most sports in Afghanistan. He learnt his first martial art at the age of eight in the basement of a friend’s house.
“A few friends and I set up an underground Taekwondo club in Kabul,” recalls the 24-year-old, who competes in Sambo, a Soviet-style martial art.
Somehow the Taliban got wind of their activities and raided their club, where older children were teaching the younger ones the sport.
“We were beaten by the Taliban police and given strict warning to never indulge in such activities again,” said Mr Chakari. “But a few a weeks later, we met at a different location and continued our practice.”
Perseverance paid off when the Afgani national team brought home a dozen medals from the international 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan last month.
It was the fifth time the 12-day sporting event had been held, and Afghanistan sent 215 players, who got 26th place out of 65 national teams.
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