Nor ´Phoenix´ Diana breaks norms as Malaysia’s first hijab pro-wrestler


Nor ´Phoenix´ Diana after another successful compeition -- Instagram

Nor ´Phoenix´ Diana after another successful compeition — Instagram

Kuala Lumpur:  With her weight of 43 kilograms and height of 155 centimeters, Nor ´Phoenix´ Diana, is a regular looking young Malaysian woman.

However, Nor is not as common when it comes to what she is doing. She is simply creating a new trend by becoming the first Malaysian Muslim woman to participate in a professional wrestling event while donning a headscarf, or ‘hijab’.

The success of the 19-year-old woman in winning the title at the professional wrestling competition – ‘The Wrestlecon’ – held in Malaysia, by defeating four male wrestlers, clearly captured the attention of netizens in the country, Bernama, the Malaysiain news agency reported.

Her love for wrestling began after she started watching world-renowned wrestling show WWE with her siblings, five years ago.

Nor Diana, whose real name is Syaradeeba Khamarulzaman told Bernama that her deep interest in in the sport led her to join a talent trial at 16, and her coach Ayez Shaukat Fonseka gave her a chance to compete in her first match in February 2017.

She said support from her parents also played a big role in boosting her confidence, although they were a little worried about her safety at first, as the sport is often labelled as ‘violent’ or ‘aggressive’.

Reflecting on her career path, the fourth of five siblings said she participated in her first wrestling match in February 2017 against another local wrestler, Scarlett Lee, but lost, and since then, worked her way up until she won The Wrestlecon belt last month.

Nor Diana, who has participated in 15 domestic and international tournaments, said she was not merely seeking to win, but rather to popularize the sport among Muslim women.

“For me, this wrestling is a form of art to showcase stunts in front of a live audience,” explained the spectacled young woman known for several finishing moves such as ‘Tilt-a-Whirl Cutter’, ‘Crossbody’ and ‘Suicide Dive’.

Nor ´Phoenix´ Diana in action - Instagram

Nor ´Phoenix´ Diana in action – Instagram

As news of her success went viral on social media, Nor Diana received several offers to take part in wrestling competitions overseas, especially in Europe, but chose to focus on those held in Singapore and the Philippines, as she also had a day-job as a clinical assistant at a hospital in Klang Valley.

“I didn’t expect my success story to go viral internationally, and I will discuss with my parents and my coach before making a final decision, as travelling far away from home for a 19-year-old is a bit scary,” said Nor Diana who revealed that she also received strong support from the community.

Regarding her nickname ‘Phoenix’, Nor Diana said she took inspiration from the mythical bird which is often used to describe those who rise again after defeat.

“I’m just like any other girl who is shy, but when I’m in the wrestling ring and listen to the music playing in the arena, I become charged up like ‘Phoenix’ bird and perform at my best regardless of the size of my opponents. At first, I was a little scared of facing opponents who were bigger than me, especially those from overseas, but with the inspiring words of my coach and the ‘phoenix’ aura, I was able to fight my opponents to the best of my ability even though sometimes I had to deal with painful counter-attacks,” she said.

Nor Diana said her costume was designed based on the ‘Phoenix’ bird and was made to allow her to be comfortable while performing.

“Usually, I would suggest about the pants I’d like to wear, while my coach would design the blouse and even the face masks I would wear,” she said.

According to Nor Diana, wrestling is a high-intensity sport, and she had to undergo tough physical training of between four and six hours twice a week, at the Malaysia Pro Wrestling Developmental Centre in Spacerubix Sentral, Puchong, under Shaukat.

The first two hours of her workout are usually physical endurance training, with the next couple of hours for conditioning, and lastly, on improving her technique, as well as safety aspects while participating in wrestling competitions.

Nor ´Phoenix´ Diana, the regular young Malaysian woman - Instagram

Nor ´Phoenix´ Diana, the regular young Malaysian woman – Instagram

Nor Diana said there was no gender discrimination during intensive training as she would often be paired with male wrestlers prior to a competition to ensure she was in her best shape.

She acknowledged that many men and women had attempted becoming pro wrestlers but stopped halfway as they were unable to withstand the rigorous physical training even before having a chance to perform in a competition.

She stressed that no athlete could avoid facing injury during their career. She had once suffered a serious elbow injury which took a long time to recover.

Nor Diana says she hopes that women who wear the hijab in the country can consider wrestling and other extreme sports as a healthy activity; however, she admits that it is a tough road to climb as there is still a lot of negative perception surrounding the sport.

“They need to have deep interest as well as a dream, and the attitude not to give up easily because the journey to success in any field can take a long time, and along the way, there may be some challenges that need to be met. Most importantly, we need to be mentally strong. I also want the international community to be aware of the existence of professional wrestling in Malaysia, and to help develop the sport of wrestling in the country and create a name for myself,” she said, adding she had the dream of competing in wrestling competitions in countries such as Japan, Canada and the United States.

“I also consider becoming a wrestling coach in the future, as I have also helped some girls out there who are interested in wrestling, but are shy to tell their parents about it,” she said.


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