Two years ago, Majiziya Bhanu was just an ordinary dental student from a small town named Orkatteri in Kozhikode district of Kerala. Today, not only has Majiziya become a local celebrity but has successfully broken free from the shackles of a number of stereotypes that she has been subjected to.
A 23-year-old woman from a small Kerala town becoming a powerlifting champion is a tough feat in itself. Doing so in a hijab (Muslim headscarf) while breaking the male bastion is what makes Majiziya’s achievements exemplary and laudable. Talking to The Logical Indian, Majiziya narrated the two-year-long battle of pursuing her passion and the resultant prejudices that came along with it.
Took a keen interest in sports from a young age
Right from a very young age, Majiziya has been interested in fitness, athletics and sports in general. The passion to excel in the field haunted Majiziya and in 2016, she finally decided to tread into the world of powerlifting. She said, “The village I live in did not have any facilities back then and my seeing my interest in fitness, my parents often inquired about activities in other towns,” she said. Majiziya always had her family behind her back, who encouraged her to explore and find her interests.”
Lack of infrastructure in her town did not stop Majiziya from pursuing her passion as in 2016, during her yearly summer break, she started travelling to a training facility gymnasium in Kozhikode, 60 kms from her hometown. “I travelled 120 kms every day, except on Sundays,” she added.
Her efforts certainly did not go unnoticed as, after only a few months of formal training, Majiziya won her first gold medal at the Calicut District Powerlifting Championship in the same year. Following this, there was no stopping Majiziya as she went on to win silver and gold medals in different national and international championships over the last two years, so much so that she has nearly lost count of the number of medals that she has won. She even won a silver in the Asian Powerlifting Championship in 2017.
Earlier in 2018, she had participated in and won Mr Kerala competition organised by Body Building Association Of Kerala and Sports Council Of Kerala- making her the only woman to do so in a hijab. While for many the headscarf might be a limitation, for Majiziya, it is an essential part of her identity that she cannot let go of. She said, “I reached the international stage with my hijab and if I could do that, I don’t think there is any reason for me to stop wearing that now, since its a part of my identity, its who I am,” she said.
Majiziya Bhanu routinely faces criticism
While Majiziya has been proving her self-worth through talent, practice, hard work and perseverance, she has to routinely fight against all odds and even criticisms that come her way. She said, “Just because I wear a hijab, I haven’t been getting sponsors and support like others.” She said that the hijab has a negative impact on companies, however, she will not stop wearing it.
“I will not stop wearing hijab for money and it is a personal matter at the end of the day,” said a determined Majiziya. She also said that a lot of talented Muslim women shy away from pursuing their passions as they think that the hijab they wear is a barrier.
While her family has been wholly supportive of Majiziya’s choices, she continues to face criticism from members of the community. However, an undeterred Majiziya is dreaming of representing Indian in weightlifting at the Olympics. She has also begun arm-wrestling and will represent India at the Arm-Wrestling World Championship in Turkey in October 2018.
Progress in her village
A lot of girls in her village has taken after Majiziya and have been showing a keen interest in entering into the world of fitness. She said that earlier in her village there were only three or four gyms, but over the last two years, the numbers have doubled. Girls and even married women join Majiziya when she practices inside the gym.
She said, “Earlier, it was only the men who used to train at gyms, but now I see women too.” Among many other dreams, Majiziya wishes to open a powerlifting training facility for women in her town so that they do not have to travel long distances like herself to pursue careers in fitness.
The Logical Indian Take
With her determination and perseverance, Majiziya Bhanu has broken not one, but multiple stereotypes. She has also emerged as an inspiration for many women in her village. The Logical Indian community applauds Majiziya and wishes her the best for her future endeavours.