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Babylon & Beyond

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Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: American Gladiators visit Marines in Anbar

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Back in the day, the concept of show business stars entertaining troops in a warzone generally meant Bob Hope, a few pretty girls and maybe a comic.

The troops have changed and so has show business.

And so stars from the NBC show "American Gladiators" came to visit Marines in some dusty outposts in Anbar province. Stars known as Titan, Militia, Panther, Phoenix and Venom.

The stars talked, signed autographs, compared chokeholds and headlocks, and then rough-housed with troops, including a contest called "Bull in the Ring." Two Marines took turns trying to throw Militia out of the ring, only to be hurled outside the perimeter within seconds.

Normally Marines might take that as an insult: bested by an entertainer. Not in this case, however.

Militia is Alex Castro, a former Marine.

-- Tony Perry, San Diego

Photo: Militia tussles with Marines. Credit: Lance Cpl. Sean Cummins

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