Meet Majiziya Bhanu, a hijab-clad power-lifter from Kerala who packs a punch

Majiziya Bhanu   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

As Majiziya Bhanu walked to the spotlight and posed during the women’s segment of the Mr Kerala contest in Kochi last year, she was greeted with jeers and hoots. But the hijab-wearing power-lifter wasn’t unnerved, despite this being her first such performance at an event for bodybuilders. “The irony is, I was declared the winner in the end,” Majiziya says, pulling no punches.

From being a “shy” girl from an orthodox family, Majiziya has power-lifted her way to the top of the game. With an impressive array of medals under her belt already, the 25-year-old has been smashing stereotypes with her sporting feats.

Majiziya Bhanu during the female segment of the Mr Kerala contest in Kochi in 2018

Majiziya Bhanu during the female segment of the Mr Kerala contest in Kochi in 2018   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Earlier, negative and offensive comments, usually revolving around hijab, used to pain me. But I have learnt to steel myself up. Today, my confidence is sky-high and I feel I’m capable of facing anything myself,” she says over phone from her hometown in Vadakara, Kozhikode. Majiziya has been busy with preparations to compete in the 56 kg weight class for the World Powerlifting Congress to be held in Moscow next month.

She took an interest in sports from a young age, dabbling in athletics and track events before seriously taking up boxing in the second year of college, which became the turning point. “Back then, I was inspired by the achievements of sportswomen such as Serena Williams and Mary Kom. It was my then coach, Ramesh Kumar sir, who motivated me to toss my hat into the power-lifting ring,” says Majiziya, a dental surgeon.

Medal tally
  • Silver in National Powerlifting Championship in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017
  • Silver in Asian Powerlifting Championship in Indonesia in 2017
  • Gold medal in National Arm-wrestling Championship in 2018

Soon, she hit upon her “hidden” strength. “As I started practising, I realised I was improving and gained the confidence to take it to the next, competitive level. In between, I also tried arm-wrestling,” she says. Majiziya then went on to represent India in the World Armwrestling Championship in Turkey last year. However, she insists that her strong point remains power-lifting.

Though she has not faced any hurdles over wearing a hijab during power lifting competitions, Majiziya says there were occasions when she had to “fight” for participation in bodybuilding contests. “If you look at international contests, participants line up in bikinis and it’s usually associated with maximum exposure of body and muscles. But what many judges look for is the fitness of the contestants. It’s not a skin show,” she says.

Majiziya believes genetics plays a major role in one’s fitness levels. “I’m a foodie but, at the same time, I also work out a lot. So I’m happy that I can generally eat what I like. But I follow a strict diet while preparing for competitions. The focus then shifts to protein-rich, nutritious food,” she says.

Majiziya Bhanu in action

Majiziya Bhanu in action   | Photo Credit: Facebook

Majiziya says her fitness goals are not impeded during the month of Ramzan when she observes fasting. “Initially, I had a concern as to how I would work out and whether I would be able to sustain my energy. But, contrary to popular notions, my doubts were dispelled. I feel one of the best of times for working out is after breaking the fast in the evening,” the sportswoman says, adding that fasting rather helps her “detoxify my body and purify my mind.”

The powerlifter says she takes criticisms as challenges and prefers to play to her strengths. “I ask myself this question: If I had not achieved anything, would anyone have bothered me? That keeps me going”. Majiziya says her family has been most supportive in encouraging her to scale greater heights, while describing her mother as her “biggest pillar of support.”

Despite focusing on power-lifting, Majiziya says her dream is to train in weight-lifting and win an Olympic medal. She will soon be training with other participants in the country in Delhi before jet-setting to a Russia winter to turn up the heat on the ring.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 1:14:31 AM |

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