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Why is there a Statue of Bruce Lee in Mostar, Bosnia?

March 12, 2024
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Why is there a statue of Bruce Lee in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

The story is pretty wild, so buckle up. In 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia and tensions between the country's primary ethnic groups erupted into violence. The city of Mostar was divided between a Croat controlled West and a Bosniak controlled East, and over the course of the war about 2,000 people died in the city.

Even though the war ended in 1994, the city was left divided and in an uneasy peace. So in 2004, a youth group called Urban Movement Mostar decided to build a statue in the city to unite Mostar's ethnic groups. They considered statues of people like Gandhi or the Pope, but eventually they decided on Bruce Lee. Why Bruce Lee? Well, in the 70's, Bruce Lee became hugely popular in Yugoslavia. There was actually a pretty large black market for VHS tapes of his movies.

When Urban Movement Mostar put out a poll, the only figure that all ethnic groups viewed positively was Bruce Lee. In fact, a representative of the group said, "We will always be Muslims, Serbs or Croats.... But one thing we have in common is Bruce Lee."

The statue was revealed in a large ceremony in 2005 and attended by about 300 people. There were Croats, Bosniaks, kung fu demonstrations and a bunch of Chinese businessmen because they were the ones who funded the project. Unfortunately, the statue was vandalized shortly afterwards, possibly because some believed that the statue was pointing towards their side of the city, which was viewed as an aggressive statement. But it was repaired and installed in a different park facing north, where is where it remained until March of 2024, when it was sadly stolen again. If you or anyone you know have information about the statue's whereabouts, let us know!

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