Majiziya Bhanu, Kerala-based hijab-wearing bodybuilder, who has won the title of the strongest woman of Kerala thrice, has been breaking stereotypes. Read her story here.
How often do you get to see a woman bodybuilder wearing a hijab? Meet Majiziya Bhanu from Kerala, an Indian professional powerlifter and a bodybuilder, who has been breaking stereotypes. She has won a silver medal for the country in The Asian Powerlifting Championship 2017, held at Indonesia and a gold medal in The Woman’s Fitness Physique, 2018 held at Darbar Hall Stadium, Kochi.
Bhanu, who is currently studying dentistry, began intensive powerlifting training during the end of 2016. She has also been selected as the strongest woman of Kerala thrice by the Kerala State Powerlifting Association.
It was her parents — Abdul Majeed and Rasiya Majeed, who supported the athlete and did everything possible in their power to help her achieve her dreams, “They enquired about many games but unfortunately, none of them were available in our village or the nearby town. But I never gave up, I did everything that I could do within the limits and later when I felt like I can go out and explore, I really made it.”
On February 25, 2018, Bhanu participated in the Mr Kerala Championship, her first time in a bodybuilding competition. The 23-year-old is all praise for her husband, who she says motivated and encouraged her to take up bodybuilding, “It was actually my husband, Nour Ahmad Kohan Alizaey, who made me participate in Mr Kerala Championship 2018. Even though I’m so active and strong in Powerlifting, I have never ever thought about bodybuilding. It’s him who encouraged me and gave me strength.”
On breaking stereotypes
When you go to the gym, how often do you see a fully-covered woman doing exercises? Bhanu has broken stereotypes and is proud of it, “I’m Hijjabed and proud of it”, says Bhanu. “I respect my religion and my identity is my Hijab. If a woman is free to show her body, why should she not be free to cover it?”
“I just want to let the world know that the Hijab is never an obstacle for a woman, who has unstoppable passion. I really wanted to prove that it is not just a piece of cloth, it is the strength and dignity, not a limiting factor or an excuse. Being a girl or being a Muslim doesn’t matter, every religion and every culture is valuable and respectful.”
Bhanu wants to participate in World Championships in the future and open a sports academy. She strongly believes women need to stand up for their own rights, “All women have the same rights as men. I stand for my own rights, I fight for my own dreams. My parents supported me and helped me make my dream come true. All the challenges can be managed if we work hard for it.”
The article first appeared in The Indian Express