Brass Ones

I used to think I was a tough guy ’cause I strolled around on a hog that I did my own work on: chopping the fender, painting it flat black, putting on some new turn signals and a side-mount license plate and brake light…that was then, this is now:
bq. When he belches around Baghdad’s old quarter on his spotless Harley Davidson, Kadhem Sharif, a powerlifting champion sporting wrap-around sunglasses, makes for an unlikely sight. And the 53-year-old is fully aware that his passion for one of the most recognizable symbols of the American way of life is not to everybody’s liking in post-war Iraq.

bq. But his garage is a carbon copy of any Harley aficionado’s den in the United States, complete with posters of naked “babes on bikes.” And his collection of 40-plus motorbikes provides a condensed history of 100 years of national turmoil…

bq. About half of his motorbikes are Harleys. “I was 12 when I sneaked out on my father’s Harley for the first time. I bought my first one eight years later, a 1966 Fatboy,” Sharif recalls.

bq. When Saddam Hussein’s feared elder son Odai helped himself to one of his favourite Harleys, “it was almost like losing a child.”

bq. “Odai came back after the 1996 assassination attempt against him and ordered me to convert the bike into a three-wheeler because he was handicapped … I started hiding my best Harleys because I was afraid he would take more.”

Not only does this cat have much love for the Hahleys, but he also has much love for the troops and hated Saddam Hussein:

bq. Despite the intimidating size of his chest and forearms, the former Iraqi bench-press champion, known to his friends as “Mr. Muscle,” now risks an icy reception in insurgent strongholds as his face has become one of the symbols of the overthrow of Saddam’s regime.

bq. On April 9, 2003, Kadhem was one of the first to rush to Baghdad’s Fardus Square and pictures of the burly Shiite hacking away at the marble plinth of Saddam’s giant statue were beamed live around the world in one of the most enduring images of the regime’s ouster.

bq. “People in the neighborhood know me. I get on with everybody. U.S. soldiers used to block the road so they could spend some time in my garage,” Sharif says.

bq. “They sometimes bring me copies of motorcycling magazines and even bought me leather boots. I’m still in touch with one of them who is saving up all his money to buy my Harley chopper.”

If that isn’t a man’s man, I don’t know what is.

~ by kinshay on 2005-06-13.

No Responses Yet to “Brass Ones”

  1. Sharif readily admits that several of his bikes were stolen in neighboring countries and smuggled into Iraq.

    So is he a thief, or is he just trafficking in stolen property? šŸ˜‰

    And Da Kine should note that the dude also has a love for the Brit bikes.

  2. Hey, I wouldn’t pass up on a free Vincent Black Shadow. I ain’t crazy.

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