Gaza marvels at new Samson

Mon Mar 7, 2016 6:19am EST
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By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - A modern-day Samson is performing feats of physical strength in Gaza.

"Go Samson go!" yelled a crowd in the Palestinian enclave cheering on Mohammad Baraka as the 20-year-old with the Biblical nickname used a rope around his chest to pull a 15-tonne petrol tanker.

Baraka, who prefers to be known as "The Incredible", perhaps because he lacks the original Samson's long hair, has been putting on displays in his hometown of Deir al-Balah for the past two years, earning a reputation as the strongest man in the Gaza Strip.

"I was confident there was power inside me and I started to develop it," said the body-builder and hotel management student.

Traffic came to a halt in Deir al-Balah during the weekend performance as motorists and children on their way to school stopped to watch Baraka tow the yellow fuel truck. As an encore, he dragged a water tanker by his teeth for about 50 meters (yards).

Baraka also wowed his audience by lying on his back and having knives dropped on his bare stomach from a height of one meter (three feet). Some friends used hammers to shatter bricks placed on his chest.

"At the beginning, some people believed in him, others had their doubts - but everyone was amazed," said his father, Kamal, a philosophy teacher. "Mohammad's power is hidden inside him, it has nothing to do with muscles and training."

The Biblical Samson was an Israelite warrior who, the Old Testament says, toppled a Philistine temple in Gaza, killing himself and a crowd that had demanded their captured and blinded enemy be brought from prison to entertain them.

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Palestinian Mohammad Baraka, 20, nicknamed by people as Gaza Samson, has knives dropped on his stomach as he exercises in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip March 5, 2016.  REUTERS/Mohammed Salem