It was inevitable. The Sydney boy who retaliated against a younger student at school after an apparent bullying attack has been transformed from a victim to an online hero.
Since video of the incident at a western Sydney school this week was posted online, it immediately went viral.
The 16-year-old "victim" has been dubbed "Little Zangief" - a character from the Street Fighter video game - and likened to the Incredible Hulk and The Punisher, with websites, mash-up videos and even a Twitter account set up in his honour.
The video, which has since been featured on US and British news sites, shows a smaller 12-year-old boy punching the bigger boy before being picked up and thrown to the ground.
The issue dominated talkback radio earlier after it happened, with psychologists disapproving of retaliation, saying there were better strategies, but many callers backing the actions of the bullied boy.
Now a Street Fighter remix video shows the same fight, but overlaid with a soundtrack and graphics from the video game.
Another video features audio of actor Charlie Sheen uttering the words "winning".
An animated version of the fight was also created by a satirical Taiwanese news service, where the victim gets so angry at being bullied that he transforms into the Incredible Hulk and chases after his tormenters.
Comments on online forums and social networking sites were full of praise for the boy.
"S--- happens, when the hunter becomes the hunted," one YouTube video was tagged.
"That bullying went to far. [Name removed] is my hero for slamming that lil punk kid that bullied him," one Twitter user wrote. "Kharma...you got to love it," wrote another, while a Facebook user quipped: "At night Chuck Norris looks under his bed for [name removed]."
In many forums, users argued over whether the bullied boy should have fought back.
Most commentators wrote in support of the victim and commended him for standing up for himself.
Kimberley O'Brien, principal child psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic in Woollahra, said the victim needed to be careful even though he might now find himself attaining status and respect at school.
"He may become popular because of this incident. But he's not going to be able to fight back physically all the time. He needs to be able to develop the skills to respond to verbally and to keep himself safe without having to use physical violence."
The South Australian government has proposed new laws to combat cyber-bullying following the posting of the footage online.
Attorney General John Rau said in a statement yesterday that such videos were "disturbing and potentially damaging".
"The government wants to attack this disgusting fad of thugs engineering and filming violent and humiliating acts and posting the images to websites," he said in a statement. Under the proposal, people who post these videos could face a fine or jail time.
The NSW Department of Education said both boys involved in the fight remain suspended from their school. The length of the suspensions had still not been determined, a spokesman for the department said.
"Counselling is available at the school. Support will be provided to the students when they return from suspension, including counselling," the spokesman added.
Inspector Almer of St Marys police said officers had collected a statement from the victim and were still investigating the incident to determine if any criminal charges should be laid.
Dr O'Brien said adults could help bullying victims by giving them support when
- Sydney Morning Herald