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She Power-lifted her Way

“I made my passport exclusively for this. I was always the champion of champions until my college days!”

Majiziya bhanu

The 25-year-old hijab wearing power lifter has earned acclaim and adoration for her career, and has been steadily smashing stereotypes of not only bodybuilders, but also of Muslim women. She is now set to compete in the World Powerlifting Congress, to be held in Moscow.

Courtesy: Majiziya Bhanu

Majiziya, a dental surgeon, comes from an orthodox family who was not financially stable.  “I had to take care of all the competition expenses and I decided to ask my friends and family members to contribute as much as they could and that’s how I was able to make it to the Asian Powerlifting Championship representing India”, she smiles. 

Majiziya’s journey up till now has had more than a few hurdles. “Everybody wanted to let me down. Power-lifting is usually associated with maximum exposure of body and muscles but I was very modest. All I knew was boxing. I would travel 60 kms to Calicut and back every day as there were no institutes in my hometown. It was very different there. People were united and there was no gender discrimination. It was my boxing coach Mr. Ramesh Kumar who introduced me to power-lifting when he thought I had a fire in me and the core strength for it. My coach helped me find a gym where I trained under JayaDas, a 70-year-old powerlifter,” says the Hijab wearing power-lifter. 

Courtesy: Majiziya Bhanu

Within a matter of two weeks from when she joined, she got an opportunity to participate in the Kozhikode District PowerLifting championship. She says, “Although JayaDas sir was not Muslim, he completely supported me and told me that irrespective of the caste or religion you should participate”. While others continued to make fun of her, he would confidently tell them that they didn’t know what she was capable of. To everyone’s surprise, she won the gold medal in the District Championship. Next up was the state level championship, exactly a month from then. She was improving drastically – from being able to lift 100 kgs, she can now lift close to 200 kgs. 

“The thing is, most athletes have experience but I was genetically strong and that’s how I was able to do it. Even now, I can climb a coconut tree,” she chuckles. “I do not come from a sports background, I used to take my inspiration from Serena Williams and Mary Kom.” She next went on to participate in her state championship where she bagged the gold without a hassle. 

Courtesy: Majiziya Bhanu

“The feeling was unbelievable. Next was the national championship, where I got the chance to represent my state and it was the first time when I went out of state to Jammu and Kashmir,” she said over the phone from Vadakara. In that competition, she won silver. By now her college had reopened, and it was hard for her to travel to Calicut everyday, so she trained in the local gym and during the weekend she went there while gearing up for the Asian Powerlifting Championship to be held in Indonesia. 

“For the international competition this time, we had a costume check and every other participant was wearing Nike or Adidas shoes that seemed very expensive. My shoes, on the other hand, were from Bata costing 150 bucks. I very recently started my power-lifting career and these are my lucky shoes”.

Majiziya bhanu

She then underwent a belt check and this time, the judges threw her leather belt in the bin. She was almost in tears. Did this mean she could not participate and her dreams were in vain? She felt she was being punished for thinking too highly of herself. Suddenly, a participant comforted her by saying she could share her belt with Majiziya. That moment changed her life. Until that day, she looked at her opponents like they were her enemies. But she says “From that day, I looked at all my competitors as my friends as well. I won silver in the Asian Power-lifting Championship.”

After the competition when she got back to India, her family members who were against her for taking up power-lifting looked up to her. She even had the support of the society now. “For any Muslim program, I would be the chief guest now” she proudly admits. According to her, once you’re a winner, you do not need support and encouragement. It is during the process when you’re aspiring to become what you want, you need all the support. “Had any other girl been in my shoes, she would have quit,” she confesses.

Courtesy: Majiziya Bhanu

“I want Muslim women to come up in life. I want to empower women. Every week I organize programs on women empowerment.” says the hijab-wearing power-lifter. 

She will soon be training with other participants in Delhi before jet-setting to a Russian winter and turning up the heat on the ring.

  • Dr. Rajshree Raghunath

    The story of the weight lifter in the article will definitely help in power lifting Indian women in society

    January 5, 2020
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