Black Belt Ayesha Noor, 21 years old, started learning karate when she was 8 years old. Suffering from epileptic seizures since birth, living in abject poverty and having lost her father just then, she never dreamed she would ever learn karate leave alone winning gold medals. But it was MA Ali took her in his wing from the slums of Beniakupur, Kolkata and groomed her into a karate champion.
Ayesha made her coach proud by winning her first gold medal in Mumbai in the year 2010 at the national level.
In 2011 she won the Gold Medal in the 15th International Karate Championship (young Group) at Mumbai, where athletes from 16 Countries had participated. She has twice been the national champion in 2011 and 2012.
Subsequently she qualified at the international level in 2013 at Thailand but this was again an uphill task for her.
With her father, who was a truck driver, no more, her mother Shakila Begum sews clothes at home while her elder brother works in a shoe shop at the road side. Ayesha, her mother and her siblings, 6 of them all live in a small one roomed house.
Appeals made by her coach to well wishers resulted in mobilizing the funds needed to go to Bangkok for the International tournament. Ayesha won all the rounds and in the final, she defeated her rival from Japan and won the trophy.
Ever since, she has been on a winning spree earning the title ‘Golden Girl of Kolkata’ representing India. She won gold again in 2015 in Bangkok.
Her efforts were recognized by the united states of America who honoured Ayesha Noor as “Hero of Gender Equality” at American Centre in New Delhi in 2017.
Later in the same year a documentary about her journey from the slums of Kolkata to winning gold at the international level despite her health condition called, “ Girl connected” was made by the International Television series (ITVS) and screen globally. It was also telecast by Doordarshan (Delhi).
The Times of India group also honoured Ayesha as ‘Times Women Heroes Award’ in 2019.
Ayesha having mastered the art of self defense is not satisfied with her achievement. She has taken on the task of training more girls from the slums of her city to defend them for free. So far she has trained more than 200 girls. Her aim is that every girl should learn to defend herself because of the risks they are facing every day.
The incident of Nirbhaya shook her deeply and she realized the need for teaching self defense to the girls especially those like her who could not afford the fees. From the last 7 years she has been training girls in karate.
At the International sports meet, 2019 in Bangkok Ayesha was awarded the International sports award.
In 2020 the ‘golden girl’ of Kolkata, was conferred with ‘Tejaswini’ award by Songoti a media house. She also got the ‘swayamsiddha’ Award by Zee 24 ghanta.
Another documentary titled “Kicking and Alive” has been made on Ayesha’s life by Mascom ( Mass Communications) department of St. Xavier’s College. This documentary has won the GIFA award.
Her popularity has soared and she has been interviewed for several channels and newspapers; there are several video clips of her on YouTube; she is an inspiration to her students has even been part of the campaign #She InspiresUs.
Ayesha Noor has tasted success and popularity with several awards under her belt. But her well-wishers and her coach Mohammed Akthar Ali feel, she deserves to be recognized by her state West Bengal and by her country India.
Sadly her own homeland is yet to recognize her talent and give her, her due.
She continues to live in the one roomed house. Her mother bears her medication expenses which she has to take continuously for epilepsy.
“The least the Government can do is bearing her medical expenses. Ayesha’s achievements are by no means a small feat. She has always won wherever she represented India”, says her coach Ali.
“The director, who made her documentary Mr. Koen Suidgeest of Netherlands, wrote to the CM of our state and to the sports Minister in 2015 to support Ayesha and her endeavours. But we received only assurances and nothing else” he added sadly.
Meanwhile, Ayesha Noor continues to inspire us, while she strives to reach out to the girls to teach them self-defense.
Ayesha credits her success to her coach M A Ali who taught her for free and groomed her making her a hero and a crusader of gender equality. Her family is equally supportive of her. Ayesha is a simple, unassuming girl, who goes about with the sole aim of arming every girl with self-defense techniques.