Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson honored with Hollywood star

Actor Dwayne Johnson with his wife Lauren Hashian. (AFP)
Updated 15 December 2017
0

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson honored with Hollywood star

LOS ANGELES: He has been named “sexiest man alive” and “world’s highest paid film star” — now Dwayne Johnson can celebrate being accepted into the Hollywood establishment with a Walk of Fame star.
The 45-year-old football player turned wrestling pro and then actor sported a sharp black suit and was joined by longtime partner Lauren Hashian and their almost two-year-old daughter Jasmine at the ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard.
“I didn’t want to write anything down. I figured this is such a monumental moment and significant time for me it’s probably best I just speak from the heart and from my gut,” the Herculean father-of-two said.
He told cheering fans the 2,624th star on the Walk was the result of years of hard work, voicing gratitude for the opportunities he’d been afforded and the friends and family who’d helped him along the way.
“This moment is so significant because it’s full circle. 2018 will mark 18 years in Hollywood and that is a very long time of blood, sweat and earning respect,” he added.
Johnson announced Monday on Instagram that he and Hashian were expecting a second child, hours before they stepped out for the premiere of his latest movie “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”
Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, paid tribute to the actor, who has entertained the possibility that he might run for president in 2020.
“Dwayne said he would use me as a bar bell if I didn’t show up,” Rothman joked, before describing his friend as a “global superstar with hundreds of millions of fans and billions of dollars in box office.”
Johnson’s recent work includes “Baywatch,” “The Fate of The Furious,” “Central Intelligence” and “San Andreas,” as well as the HBO comedy “Ballers.”
Reputed to be one of the hardest-working stars in Hollywood, he has been in 14 movies in just four years, including previous installments of the “Fast and Furious” franchise, “Hercules,” “Snitch,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Empire State,” “Pain and Gain,” and “Moana.”
Born on May 2, 1972, in the San Francisco Bay Area and raised in Hawaii and Pennsylvania, Johnson grew to 196 centimeters and weighs 111 kg.
He played defensive tackle at the University of Miami and went on to a stint on the practice roster of the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 1995.
Johnson became a professional wrestler in 1996, following his father, Rocky Johnson, and grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia. He would become an eight-time World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment champion.
Nicknamed “The Rock” due to his strength in the ring and roughhewn features, he was declared “sexiest man alive” by People magazine in November 2016.
It was a good year for the actor, who was also named the world’s highest paid film star by Forbes magazine.
 


Olympic dreams: Palestinian swim team braves pollution to train in Gaza waters

Updated 22 October 2018
0

Olympic dreams: Palestinian swim team braves pollution to train in Gaza waters

  • Conditions are far from perfect; the waves make serious training difficult and they have little equipment
  • ‘We lack even the simplest equipment such as goggles and swimsuits’

BEIT LAHIA, Palestinian Territories: On one of the world’s most polluted coastlines, 30 young Palestinians dive head first into the sea off the Gaza Strip, their minds filled with dreams of Olympic glory.
Aged between 11 and 16, they make up a rare swimming club in the Palestinian enclave, and perhaps its only mixed-sex one.
Coach Amjad Tantish talks through a warm-up before they race from the trash-strewn beach into the sea as he continues to bark instructions.
Conditions are far from perfect; the waves make serious training difficult and they have little equipment.
But Tantish explained that there are no free public swimming pools in the Gaza Strip, so they had to brave the sea.
“We lack even the simplest equipment such as goggles and swimsuits,” he said. “We don’t have any funding.”
The Mediterranean hugs the entire 40-kilometer western border of the Gaza Strip, but almost no one enters its waters.
The desperate shortage of energy and lack of sanitation infrastructure mean around 100 million liters of poorly treated sewage are pumped into the sea every day, according to the United Nations.
In the worst spots along the shore the sea is tinted brown.
More than 95 percent of tap water is polluted, and water-related diseases are the primary cause of child mortality in Gaza, according to the World Health Organization.
The UN says the situation has come about mainly because of Israel’s crippling land and sea blockade of Gaza, warning recently the enclave is “imploding.”
Israel says the measures are necessary to isolate Hamas, the group that runs Gaza and with which it has fought three wars since 2008.
It accuses the group of squandering international aid on arms and fortifications.
Israel has seized dozens of diving suits and other swimming aids it says Hamas was seeking to smuggle into Gaza for military purposes.
For those still willing to get wet, environmental experts say the water near Beit Lahia in northern Gaza has the lowest rates of pollution.
And so the team train there a few times a week, helping to fuel their dreams.
Tantish says the squad dreams of competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, though he knows that is improbable.
Even getting a visa to leave Gaza via Israel is an almost insurmountable hurdle.
“We have many opportunities to participate in outdoor training camps and in Arab competitions, but travel is a major obstacle,” he said.
The Palestine Olympic Committee sent only six athletes to the 2016 Games.
Four of those, including the two swimmers, were invited to attend despite not meeting the minimum requirements.
But even they had regular access to pools and neither were based in Gaza.
Abdul Rahman, 15, said he hopes to become a “hero and achieve first place in international competitions.”
Mixed-gender activities are rare in conservative Gaza, particularly in the sporting arena.
The girls mostly wear long black swim trousers and red blouses, with their heads largely uncovered.
Tantish, 42, said in the past it “was not an acceptable idea, we faced many difficulties and troubles.”
Now, he said, attitudes have changed.
“Families drop their daughters off to practice swimming and the proportion of women reached 30 percent.”
Rania, 32, was walking with her husband along the beach but stopped to watch the swimming.
“I don’t think being religious stops our girls from being like other people or from having this beautiful ambition,” she said.
Most of the girls joining this year decided to get involved at their own initiative, Tantish said.
Ruqiya, 14, said she loves the atmosphere at the club.
“I started learning to swim three years ago and recently I joined the team. My family supports me and I train and play with my friends in the sea.”
She dreams of becoming a professional: “We want a large swimming pool specially to train for the Olympics.”