‘I am really shy’: introducing Phoenix, the world’s first hijab-wearing champion wrestler

3239Source: The Guardian

By  in Kuala Lumpur

Nor Diana can remember vividly the first time she stepped out to make her wrestling debut. Outside the ropes she had always been a quiet and studious hijab-wearing Malaysian woman, but here in the ring, dressed in black leather embossed with flames and as the crowd roared, she suddenly felt like a fire burst from inside her: here she was Phoenix.

Nor, who last month won Malaysia’s biggest wrestling tournament – defeating four men for the title – cuts an unlikely figure for a pro wrestler. A 19-year-old who is just 152cm (5ft) tall and weighs 43kg (94lbs), she speaks softly as she sits in her training centre in the town of Puchong, close to Kuala Lumpur, dressed in her hijab, wide glasses and floral baju kurung, traditional Malaysian dress.

“In the real world I am really shy, I am very reserved, but something happens to me when I go into the ring as Phoenix, I become a totally different person,” she says. “Phoenix is more fun and more energetic and brave, she has this fire in her and she always wants to win. And that’s why I love wrestling because I get to do things I could never do in real life.”

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