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"Batman" brings order to southern Slovak town

by
Batman
REUTERS/Warner Bros Pictures & DC Comics
NO SALES FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS NO ARCHIVES
Batman REUTERS/Warner Bros Pictures & DC Comics NO SALES FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS NO ARCHIVES

DUNAJSKA STREDA, Slovakia (Reuters) - His utility belt might not be as well-equipped as the TV version and he hasn't had to fight Penguin's henchmen yet, but Zoltan Kohari has nailed the superhero look and grit needed to fight evil in the southern Slovak town of Dunajska Streda.

Dressed in his home-made, all-leather Batman costume with the bat symbol proudly displayed on his chest and pointy ears on his cowl, Kohari, 26, cleans the streets, helps old people out and calls the police when he sees something suspicious.

"I have decided to do good for the people. I take care of order and help clean up the environment so we can keep living on this planet," Kohari told Reuters.

There are some slight differences in the storylines of the real-life Kohari and fictional millionaire Bruce Wayne, the man behind the mask in Batman comic books, TV shows and films.

For one, Kohari is a real-life person, whose path to the side of truth, justice and a tidy neighborhood once strayed to the wrong side of the law.

The trained house painter spent eight months in jail last year and attempted suicide after he was released, before realizing he had a mission to make life in his community better.

Lacking a full-time job, he moved into a dilapidated concrete apartment block on the edge of town where he turned an empty apartment - with no electricity or running water -- into his very own Batcave from where he launches his street patrols.

Kohari's Batman impersonation follows the emergence of a trend in the United States, where ordinary citizens began donning superhero costumes and performing public services in the wake of Hollywood films such as "Kick Ass" and Woody Harrelson's "Defendor", which tell the tale of "real-life" superheroes.

Kohari says he never resorts to physical violence and some people in his town think he is a bit batty, but his neighbors said he is an honest and good man.

"He's had a tough life but he is very dependable and we like him. He helps us out, keeps an eye on public order, and he is a hero for my son and his schoolmates," said Jana Kocisova, a mother of two who lives in a neighboring apartment block.

So what's next for the Slovak superhero?

After tidying up and helping the elderly, Batman's next mission will be making sure bouncers at the local disco do not rough up visitors.

(Reporting by Jan Lopatka, editing by Paul Casciato)

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