When he was about ten, a little thing called World War Two broke out and the Japanese invaded Singapore. This is a battle Winston Churchill called “the worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history.” The legend is that Singapore’s coastal defense turrets were all designed to fire into the coast to repel a naval invasion and couldn’t be turned around to stop a land force, but that’s apocryphal. The truth is the Japanese staged a legendary and risky invasion, using bicycles to transport themselves through the jungle and took the place over on foot, rather than via navy, as the British expected.
Anyway, this isn’t a history lesson. All you need to know is that the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese and it was renamed Syonanto. During the Japanese occupation, my grandfather, who was the first Asian police inspector in Singapore, worked funneling supplies to resistance fighters. The family was forced to flee into the jungles of Malaysia for their own protection to avoid Japanese reprisals.
So it came to be that my dad grew up in the jungle. They made a little farm and my dad learned to climb trees and work hard to help feed his family. This made him unusually strong and gave him what he used to refer to as his “brute strength”. Him being freaky strong is one thing that figures into many of the crazy stories we have about him.