Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 11th 2013 Contents Kashma grew up in the south and attended
Naparima Girls'. She was always athletic, very
involved in gymnastics and track & field, and
although as body conscious as any other nor-
mal young girl, she'd always thought a strong
female physique was much more attractive
than a skinny one.
She was a confident young lady, sur-
rounded by a loving family, and one of the
'popular kids'. She even had the fairy tale ro-
mance... she met her future husband while
they were both in high school and they
stayed together until they were eventually
married when she was 24.
Two years later, her perfect world crashed.
Her fairytale ended in divorce from the man
she had known for practically half her life, and
as inexperienced as she was in the world of
dating, her next relationship turned out to be
an abusive one.
Then she suffered through the traumatic
horror of being attacked at gunpoint, robbed
and almost raped.
It was then that her initial foray into body-
building took on a whole new meaning.
She left all of her anguish on the floor of
the gym, focusing instead on pushing the lim-
its of every single muscle in her body. At first
healthy and not broken... but then it became
about much more: the sense of empower-
ment it gave her, the striking and beautiful
image staring back at her in the mirror, the re-
newed purpose and fulfillment it brought to
Her mother, loving & supportive as she al-
ways was, worried about her changing
physique, telling Kashma that she was per-
fectly beautiful just the way she was and she
didn't understand why she wanted to "spoil
herself" like that. With time, Kashma was
able to help her mom understand the positive
effect bodybuilding was having on her life,
but she continued to face it from the public.
Snide comments from women, said just loud
enough for her to hear, and sexist, at times
vulgar, remarks from men used to hurt so
much that it made her cry. She found herself
sometimes deliberately choosing baggy
clothing, and hanging out mostly with other
bodybuilders, just to avoid attention.
She has also faced severe professional
challenges. The field of female bodybuilding
in T&T used to have a lot more local competi-
tion, but the numbers have substantially di-
minished because of the lack of proper
support. Even the prize incentives for female
competitors are hugely disproportionate to
Kashma has competed successfully in her
category, but says that she continued to be
sidelined many times in favor of TTBBF-
trained athletes. TTBBF (Trinidad & Tobago
Body Building Federation) is the governing
body for the sport, but also trains athletes
who in turn go up against non-TTBBF-trained
athletes in qualifying for competition, and the
qualifying process is judged by the TTBBF.
In 2011, she was again asked by the TTBBF
to sit out of other competitions and just com-
pete in Arnold Classic USA 2012. One month
before the competition, she was told that she
needed to find sponsorship, not just herself
but for the entire team, to go to the competi-
tion. Only because she'd already built up a
large professional network was Kashma able
to pull it off, getting a number of US-based
sponsors to come on board.
Then came another blow: TTBBF told her
that she had to find sponsorship for all of the
required officials to accompany the team
also. This time though, the organisers of the
competition and her sponsors stepped in,
querying the TTBBF's actions and sending a
written letter of complaint calling the actions
unfair and unnecessary. TTBBF's response
was to pull the entire team from the show.
Fed up and frustrated, Kashma resigned
from the local body and moved to the US
where she was immediately snapped up by
the US Virgin Islands and once again regis-
tered to compete in the show, but it was still
not to be. The TTBBF wrote a letter of com-
plaint to say that she was still their athlete
(claiming that they had not accepted her res-
ignation because it was submitted when she
was in an emotional state) and labeling her a
difficult, problematic athlete (allegations
which they later were forced to retract). Be-
cause the legalities of the issue could not be
ironed out in time, she was pulled from the
show literally moments before she was about
to step out on stage.
It took legal action for her to get officially
released from the TTBBF but she was finally
successful in June 2012. Only then was she
able to compete for the USVI at the Arnold
Classic USA 2013, where she triumphed in
her category, in full view of the delegation
from the TTBBF sitting in the front row.
Although she justifiably savours the victory,
Kashma is not about retribution, and certainly
is not allowing the past to get in the way of
She walks with her head held high, in sexy
clothing, proud of herself, her body and her
achievements. She is happily newly-wed to
fellow bodybuilder Zaahid Hosein, and lives in
Tampa where she still competes for the
USVI. She has a huge international fan base
and sponsors from Europe, Central America
& the US.
Hers is a story of triumphant success in the
face of challenge, and is a sad loss to the
sport of female bodybuilding in this country.
She is currently in T&T until October, is
using the opportunity to host personal train-
ing sessions. For further info, find her on
Facebook or email at
email@example.com or call 323-6248.
August 11, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
By Helen Shair-Singh
Success in any sport requires not just physical power but an equally powerful mind,
focused on rising above challenges. One female bodybuilder, Kashma Maharaj, knows
that she has EARNED her success.
Links Archive August 10th 2013 August 12th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page