Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala’s sportswomen have always shared the limelight with their male counterparts, particularly in athletics, with stars like M.D. Valsamma and P.T. Usha being as popular as T.C. Yohannan and Suresh Babu.
That, however, has not been the case across the sports spectrum, particularly when it comes to body building.
That stereotype has now been broken with the emergence of Majizia Bhanu, who emerged winner in the women’s category of the ‘Mr Kerala’ competition in Kochi recently.
What captured the imagination of the state even more was how Bhanu chose to participate in the competition — wearing a hijab.
In what was her first competition at the state level, the 23-year-old appeared stylish in her hijab while displaying her physique, and walked away with the top prize.
Interestingly, Bhanu’s success owed much to her background on the athletics field, which helped her tone her body over her school and college days. She is an undergraduate student in dentistry, from Orkatteri in Kozhikode district.
Bhanu had excelled in multiple sports before turning a champion in body building. She had taken a fancy for boxing, but gave it up because she was not permitted to enter the ring wearing braces. She then turned to powerlifting and became a sensation of sorts, winning the ‘Strong woman of Kerala’ title thrice. She also participated in the Asian Powerlifting Championship last year.
Bhanu told local media that she had initially been reluctant to get into bodybuilding competitions, fearing that it involved a lot of skin show. That was when she saw videos of some Egyptian bodybuilders and decided that the hijab would be a good bet to appear modest at bodybuilding competitions. Her husband, Nour Ahmad was also supportive of her idea.
She is also thankful to the judges, who did not discriminate against her over her costume, and instead judged the participants on their physiques.
Having made her mark in bodybuilding, too, she now wants to focus more on powerlifting. Bhanu’s next aim is to have a tilt at the world powerlifting title, competing in the 52-kg category.