Afghan bodybuilder Raqib Farooqi looks like a real-world incarnation of Aquaman, and he’s taking the internet by storm.
Farooqi lives in the western province of Ghor in Afghanistan, and videos of his workouts have gone viral thanks to his extreme workout conditions. While athletes in the West pump iron and hoist kettlebells in comparatively posh health clubs and gyms, Farooqi gets after it bare-chested in the wild. He’s into working out halfway submerged in the icy waters of the Hari River.
According to the Afghanistan news outlet Tolo News, the 23-year-old Farooqi has been training in multiple sports for at least seven years, including powerlifting and bodybuilding. He said he enjoys extreme and exhausting exercise and wants to “win medals for his nation” by competing internationally. Videos show him swimming, biking, boxing, and even lifting a motorcycle above his head.
Nicknamed the “Afghan Tiger,” this muscle-bound young man looks ferocious, but his attitude is quite the opposite. Farooqi considers his sport an act of peace and unity. “I want to showcase my body strength and say that nothing will be impossible if we want to do it,” he said. “Exercise is health. Sport is life. Don’t stay away from exercise.”
His message is well timed, as his war-torn country enters its second round of negotiations between government officials and the Taliban.