Fighting to fit in

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Posted on 01 June 2015 .


Yaser Zomorodi training at Lifestyle Martial Arts. 139368 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS


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“FIGHTING is like living,” said Dandenong’s supremely-skilled Prince of Persia.Yaser Zomorodi, who arrived by boat two years ago, learnt the motto from renowned Kung Fu Sanda coach Freidon Maliki in his Iranian homeland.“If you want to be successful in your life and in your fighting, you have to be relaxed. Your mind is clear,” Yaser said.Yaser, 33, shuffles his limber, buffed shoulders several times into a fighting pose at Dandenong-based Lifestyle Martial Arts club.“You have to be like this,” he says.In echoes of the case of aspiring Test cricketer and former asylum seeker Fawad Ahmed, Yaser is seeking to win citizenship and gold for Australia.There is little doubt he has the talent and grunt to represent Australia at the upcoming Kung Fu Wushu World Games in Indonesia.Last month he comfortably swept, wrestled and kicked his way to a national Wushu Sanda title, dumping an Australian champion onto the mat time after time.Yaser has also beaten all rivals in Sanda-mad Iran to be crowned five-times national champion.To him, the potentially treacherous five-day boat trip from Indonesia to Christmas Island in 2013 was not much of a worry.Even three anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions have barely slowed him down.His Kryptonite is his non-citizen status – which causes him to be ineligible for the Australian national team.Yaser is one of 30,000 asylum seekers on a bridging visa in Australia.He does not have work rights and lives on an allowance that’s less than the dole.For the dream of a better life, he left Iran where his fame led him to be singled out by police and for 10 months extra military service.He’s a popular juniors’ coach at Lifestyle Martial Arts club, which entrenched itself as Australia’s top Sanda club with 12 gold and four silver medals at last month’s national titles.Asylum-seeker settlement service AMES connected Yaser to the club soon after he joined his brother Saber in Dandenong two years ago.Yaser describes the club – which is supporting his bid for citizenship – as his family.The club’s team manager Sarah Corles said if Yaser didn’t fight for Australia, it would be a wasted medal opportunity.“The World Games over the next two years will be Yaser’s last chance.”One of his nine-year-old students raves about Yaser as a coach, as the man who taught him how to throw people.And how not to quit.Sanda – a combination of boxing, kickboxing and stand-up wrestling – is madly popular in parts of Asia, particularly in Iran and China.Kung Fu Wushu Australia president Walt Missingham said the federation could support Yaser’s bid, pending proof of his achievements, cross-checks with immigration authorities and a formal legal application.Even with the federation’s backing, Yaser’s fate depends on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.“It can take five weeks in some cases,” Mr Missingham said.“It can take years.”