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Sports & Recreation

Best Back Story for a Martial-Arts Instructor 

Ali Fathollahi

Martial arts was a hobby before it was a career for Ali Fathollahi, a sixth-degree black belt who has taught Olathe cops, Sprint workers and former-Chief Marcus Allen. Before it was a hobby, martial arts helped Fathollahi acclimate to life in the United States after his family fled Iran. Fathollahi's father was a general in the army of the shah, who was deposed by Islamic revolutionaries in 1979. "We were on the last airplane out of the country," Fathollahi says. Fathollahi took up martial arts so he could defend himself against playground bullies who didn't like his olive skin and his poor grasp of English. Today Fathollahi teaches classes out of a studio he built next to his house, and he has devised his own system of martial arts, which he calls "Ali-do," an amalgam of tae kwon do, kickboxing, Chinese grappling and Japanese karate.

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