Meet Saddam Hussain.

He plays baseball, likes cheese pizza and watches wrestling on television.But this Saddam is a 9-year-old fourth-grader at Pearl Upper Elementary School in this community near Jackson.

Friends say he's an all-around nice kid.

A Pakistan native, Saddam said he is unfazed by sharing a name with the man President Bush branded "the butcher of Baghdad."

"When I was little, my parents used to tell me all about Saddam," he said. "I know he's not a nice person."

"He is handling it all very well," teacher Patsy Rogers said of the occasional ribbing Saddam takes about his name. "He has a sense of humor."

Saddam said he quickly got used to double takes and quizzical looks from teachers when school started a few weeks after Iraq invaded Kuwait Aug. 2.

"Our music teacher said that if the Saddam Hussein over there was as sweet as the Saddam Hussain over here, we wouldn't have any problems," said Paige Welborn, one of Saddam's classmates. "I think she's right."

Saddam is quick to point out a key difference between his name and the Iraqi leader's: "He spells his (last) name with an `E,"' Saddam said. "I spell mine with an `A."'

Saddam got his name for two reasons: His older brother is named Hasham, and the rhyming names sounded good for a pair of brothers, his father, Manzoor Hussain, said, adding:

"In New York, where I was working, I had an Iranian friend. I would tell him, `I'm going to have a son, and I'm going to name him Saddam."'

He said he was only teasing his Iranian friend. At that time in 1980, Iran and Iraq were at war.

"After we had a son, I thought, `Why not name him Saddam? It's a good name,"' said Hussain, a veterinarian for the U.S. Agriculture Department in Jackson.

Most of Saddam's peers at Pearl Upper Elementary understand a bit about events developing in the Persian Gulf, Rogers said.

A few classmates have greeted him with military salutes.

"I just ignore them," Saddam said, shrugging.

Rogers smiles when talking about Saddam's part in a class project.

"They wrote letters to the servicemen in the Middle East," she said. "You're going to love what Saddam put on his card. He wrote, `I'm not who you think I am."'