In a poor corner of Kabul, a victim of an ISIS attack runs a sports club. He reopened the wrestling club two months after the ISIS attack. Two months ago, Isis suicide bombers attacked the wrestling club. At around 6 pm on September 5, Abbas heard gunfire and a cry of “suicider”.
He charged to the door, slamming it shut onto the foot of the attacker, who promptly detonated a bomb held in a sports-bag. Another detonated a car-bomb just outside as help was arriving.
It was only when Abbas regained consciousness in hospital that he realized his left arm had been severed in the explosion. In total, 30 people were killed and a further 50 wounded.
“Before, I was very good at showing students the throws, but now I have to tell them to practise with other boys. That has been very hard for me,” Abbas told The Guardian.
At home, too, he has had to adapt and his wife helps him. While in hospital, hundreds of visitors showed up by his bedside, thanking the man who put their children on the right path – or, in the attack itself, saved their lives.
Abbas paid for the repairs to the club building himself. A patch of lighter paint marks the hole blown through it. He also kept fit waiting to come back.
One 23-year-old admits he was scared to return. But wrestling itself is a form of resistance. “The enemy wants us not to play,” says a defense ministry official, “but we are showing that we can come back and make things better.”
Sajid Omid, a 16-year-old young man, said that on the day of the attack, a piece of shrapnel hit him in the chest and his wrestling partner was killed. “I am scared to come but my love of wrestling means I cannot come,” he says quietly. He hopes to become the latest in a long line of champions trained by Abbas.
The attack on the Maiwand club was Isis’s fifth strike this year in the same area of west Kabul, a poor Hazara neighborhood of low brick houses.
Abbas founded this branch of the Maiwand wrestling club in 1980. In 1990, a rocket killed his first wife.