Dubai: He stands a little over three feet tall. But what Abdul Rozik aka Abdo Rozik from Tajikistan lacks in size, he more than makes up with a big heart. The social media sensation and the world’s most diminutive singer is in Dubai on the invitation of UAE-based International Fighting Championship Management (IFCM) ahead of his much-publicised fight with Russia’s Hasbulla Magomedov on November 12.
Both are of the same age and stature. But anyone who has seen their videos would mistakenly believe they are children. The fact is both are 18-year-old adults.
I caught up with Rozik as he enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city between skydiving, posing with Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah and exchanging mock punches with ex-world boxing champ Amir Khan.
“I have fallen in love with Dubai. It’s so welcoming, and the level of hospitality here is truly incredible. There are so many things to do here. I just wish it was a little less hot,” the affable tiny man said, communicating through two interpreters who translated his responses from Tajik to Russian and then English.
Rozik said he was impressed to see how accessible Dubai is for people with disabilities. “I don’t have any physical disability. I am just small because of a growth hormone deficiency but I want to tell people with physical challenges that disability cannot be an obstacle to success. Never give up and never ever quit,” said 94-centimetre tall Rozik, who weighs under 15 kilograms.
To a family of gardeners in Gishdarva village in the Bangkent region of Tajikistan, Rozik suffered from rickets – a skeletal disorder that stunts growth among children. His parents were too poor to look after him let alone get him treated. So, they left Rozik, the second eldest of five children, to fend for himself. As a child, Rozik would eke out a living by entertaining shoppers at Panjakent bazaar, earning less than two dirhams a day.
“Those were hard days. I loved singing so I would stand in the middle of the crowded market and break out into a song,” he recalled.
Rozik’s fortunes changed in October 2019, when Tajik rapper Baron (Behrouz) spotted him and made a music video with him. The song, Vatan, became an instant hit. Rozik has never looked back. Since then, the duo has filmed several music videos. Baran has also enrolled him into a school where he’s learning Russian and English. “In nine years, he had been to school for barely 20 days. I am glad we found each other,” said Baron.
Today, Rozik is a household name in his country with nearly 400,000 subscribers on his Youtube channel and thousands of followers on Instagram. More fame awaited him when news emerged about his upcoming mixed martial arts fight (MMA) with rival Hasbulla Magomedov nicknamed Mini Khabib inspired by former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
A video of their pre-fight press conference went viral after it was shared by the likes of American basketball legend Shaquille O’ Neal, Ultimate Fighting champ Henry Carlos Cejudo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt star Dillon Danis among others.
‘Allah has been kind to me,” said Rozik whose dream is to perform Haj and built a house for his family in the city. “My eldest brother is in the army and my parents live alone in the village. It would be nice if they have a house in the city.”
ICFM founder Yasmine Safia said they brought Razik to Dubai so that he could inspire other youth and motivate people to accomplish their goals despite the odds. ‘He has overcome so many challenges to be where he is. He’s an inspiration to musicians and fighters,” said Safia. She evaded questions about when the fight will take place and where. “The UAE should be the perfect venue,” she said.
This story was done and posted by Mazhar Farooqui on Facebook on 18th July 2021.