Syrian Refugee Becomes Croatian Boxing Champion

Total Croatia News

Tellingly, his father’s name is Muhammad Ali.

“I love my native Syria, but my future is in Croatia. I will stay here and I want to win medals for Croatia. And who knows, maybe one day I will bring to Zagreb the title of the world boxing champion.” These are the words of Tarek, a young man whose father is Muhammad Ali. Of course, not the Muhammad Ali, but a physician who left Syria in 2013 together with his family, escaped from the war and settled in Zagreb, reports Večernji List on May 1, 2017.

He was accompanied by wife Suzana and sons Tarek and Fadel. Fourteen-year-old Tarek has become the boxing champion of Croatia in the category of young boxers up to 48 kg. “I will do my best to win all the time,” says the Syrian boy with the Croatian passport. “It is interesting that my father is Muhammad Ali. But he has nothing to do with boxing,” says Tarek Kaoudahhan in fluent Croatian. Although he came to Croatia for the very first time just four years ago, his Croatian is excellent.

“I was ten years old when bombing completely destroyed our building in Aleppo. Suddenly, we were left without anything. Our whole life has disappeared in dust and smoke. I remember that we packed up what was left and went. I do not remember more details,” says Tarek.

Logical question is why did they come to Croatia, and not to Germany, Sweden, or some other western European country. “Because we all have Croatian passports. My mother is Croatian, Anka Filipović from Dragalić near Nova Gradiška. While she was a young woman, she worked at the post office at Jurišićeva Street in Zagreb. The post office was often visited by my late father Burhan Aldin Tarabishi who studied here and sent letters to Syria. They quickly fell in love and married, and then went to live in Aleppo. And that is how my four sisters and I were born in a Croatian-Syrian marriage,” explains Suzana, an English-language professor who would like to work as a translator in Croatia, but has not been able to find a job for years.

“In Aleppo we had everything, but the city has been turned into a black hole. I do not know if there is any future there, but I want to go back to my city. Everything will calm down in Syria, I only wish for all the foreigners to leave our country alone. As soon as they leave Syria, we will continue to live in a multicultural secular country,” says Suzana.

“My son can remain living in Croatia. Croatia has given him everything and it is nice that he wants to stay in this country. We arrived in Zagreb in March 2013, in the middle of the school year, and our children were enrolled in a special programme. They went to Croatian language classes and, as you can see, they mastered the language.”

Although his father’s name is Muhammad Ali, Tarek is a fan of another boxing champion. “I like Tyson more. I would like to be a destroyer like him. That is my plan. To destroy opponents and bring medals to Croatia.”


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