A few months ago, 23-year-old Majiziya Bhanu swept the headlines for being the only hijab-clad powerlifter in the country.
However, despite her many achievements, sponsors have pulled out in the last minute and now she is not sure she can participate in the World Arm Wrestling Championship 2018 to be held in Turkey.
Majiziya, who initially began her career with powerlifting, ventured into arm wrestling over the years. In March this year, she won the Mr Kerala (Female) competition organised by the Body Building Association.
After winning a gold medal in the National Arm Wrestling Championship in May this year, Majiziya all set to take part in the World Arm Wrestling Championship 2018, in October.
However, a few people who had agreed to sponsor her pulled out at the last minute.
"Five or six companies had promised to sponsor me for the World Championship. Some of them have even helped me in other championships. But after all the media publicity I received in the last few months, they have refused to fund me. When you sponsor a Muslim woman sportsperson, things are different. It is not like sponsoring any other player. They do not want their names to be attached to a hijab-clad sports woman; there's still a stigma associated with a Muslim woman venturing out into sports, especially the way I do," Majiziya tells TNM.
She says that although she received support from her community members initially, the praises gradually began to turn into criticism.
"I believe these sponsors are influenced by the criticism a certain section of the community is levelling," Majiziya says.
While she says that she tried to convince the companies to not back out, Majiziya realised that she was running out of time.
"I need to pay Rs 2 lakh by July 10, even though the total expense in taking part in the championship will be about Rs 5 lakh. I approached Sports Minister's office and the Kerala Sports Council, but they told me that they cannot sanction any funds immediately. They are willing to reimburse the amount to me later, but said that they cannot immediately release any funds," Majiziya says.
If you wish to help Majiziya, her account details are:
Bank name: The South Indian Bank Ltd Vatakara Branch
A/C No : 0106053000059916
Account holder name: Majiziya Bhanu
IFSC code : SIBL0000106