Ayesha Noor: A Fighter Who Fought Epilepsy And Poverty To Become Karate Champion

Ayesha Noor and her story both are extraordinary. She is a 19-year-old teenager raised in the slums of Kolkata. She is epileptic and has fought all odds to make it to the International Karate Circuit.


America’s Independent Television Service (ITVS) is now making a documentary on her life to be featured on the Women and Girls Lead Global, an initiative that uses the theme of ‘the triumph of the underdog’ to promote positive change on gender issues.

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Ayesha is the only Indian selected for this documentary.

The documentaries by ITVS aim at telling personal stories of five young women in five countries. The similarities between all these women are examples for their generation.

“Each one of them does something special to help other girls,” said Koen Suidgeest from Netherlands, who will shoot the films.

In 2012, Ayesha won three gold medals in state and national karate championships, after which she headed to Thailand where she struck gold in the Thai Pitchai International Youth Karate Championship.

She was the only girl in the 12-member Indian team.


Ayesha is concerned about the growing crimes against the women in India. She believes that women have to protect themselves from crimes. She trains girls everyday at the Ramleela ground in Entally and coaches them in self-defense.

“It has been a struggle. My father died, my mother sews for a living. Food at home is short. But my parents always told me to work hard and I did. Thanks to my coach, MA Ali. Without him nothing would have been possible,” said Ayesha to NDTV India.


Her elder brother Tanveer, a temporary shoe salesman, is the family’s sole breadwinner for the family.

Ayesha mentioned that she admires India’s five-time world boxing champion MC Mary Kom of Manipur.

Ayesha started learning karate eight years ago after seeing her elder brother Farooque training under MA Ali. Her father Noor Mohammad, a taxi driver, who died four years ago, was also a bodybuilder .

“Karate demands strict discipline and training to maintain consistency,” says Ayesha, crediting mother Shakeela’s encouragement for her incredible transformation.

When the news of the documentary reached the Chief Minister’s office in Kolkata, the minority affairs office called Noor extending their help. However, Noor has said that she does not want charity.

ITVS feels that hers is a phenomenal story of a young woman who is single-mindedly pursuing her aim of becoming a karate champion despite all odds.

The non-profit organisation is filming the stories of four women from Jordan, Kenya, Peru and Bangladesh, besides the story of Ayesha Noor.

ITVS promotes and funds international documentary film projects. It was created by a US Congress mandate in 1988.

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