Cairo — Arab television embraced the Emirati marksman first, 40-year-old Sheikh Ahmed Al-Maktoum, who lovingly kissed the barrel of his double trap shooter after winning the UAE’s first ever gold medal. On Dubai television one night, I watched a 15-minute tribute to him. They looped the same three shots (including the kiss) over what must have been the national anthem.
Egypt’s rapture came bigger than the slight Sheikh. Karam Gaber Ibrahim is 6’3″ and 215 pounds. The Associated Press wrote that he looks like the Rock, but he doesn’t, really. When he won his Greco-Roman wrestling gold, he did a gymnast’s flip, and then body-slammed his coach. The rumor here is that the goverment will pay him a million Egyptian pounds ($170,000) for restoring the country’s Olympic honor with Egypt’s first gold medal since 1948. And he gets his own big sign, pictured above (“We love you Karam”), replete with sponsors, and across the street from a tasty but overpriced donut shop.
Karam is considering a professional wrestling career in the United States.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 1, 2004