UPDATED: Palestinian Woman Crowned Israel’s Miss Fitness


view videoWATCH: At age 27, the young Jerusalemite, defied the traditional expectations to become the first Palestinian woman to compete in a bodybuilding competition…and win!

By i24news


Anoush Belian holds the title of Israel’s Miss Fitness 2015. Not only is she the first Palestinian to win the Israeli competition, but she is also the first Palestinian woman to choose to compete in a bodybuilding competition.

Anoush Belian

Up to a year ago, Belian led a completely normal life. She studied English at the Armenian School in Jerusalem and worked in various fields, including teaching English. But last year, at age 27, the young East Jerusalemite decided it was time for a challenge. Her chosen field – weightlifting.

She joined a gym run by the person who later became her personal trainer, Basel Saeed, and went on an intensive regimen, diet and all.

The training sessions cut Belian off from her family and friends, and even her mother’s cooking which she had to give up as part of the diet she made for herself in order to reach her goal – to compete in Israel’s National Amateur Bodybuilders Association (NABBA).

Israel’s Miss Fitness 2015 winner, Anoush Belian

Her decision was met with concern by her family – and ridicule among some of her friends. “Because of my tight body and the muscles I developed, people told me I have a very masculine look,” she said in an interview with i24, with a broad smile.

Belian did not always find it easy to smile. When she was 17, her father – the well-known journalist and educator Aram Belian – died. She was forced to help in the upbringing of her three younger sisters. “I went out to work at age 12,” she says, adding: “It gave me a strong desire to realize myself, and specifically in a manly field.”

When she began training, “the men were surprised and looked down at me, but after I won the contest, they began to treat me differently,” she says. “I’m still the only woman who joined the club, and I’m the first and only Palestinian woman in East Jerusalem and the West Bank that has chosen this field.”

Her coach’s support was essential: “His belief that I can go far in this difficult business pushed me and encouraged me to continue.”

His confidence would appear justified. Within ten months of training she built her muscles enough to enter the contest – and win.

“I did not expect to win. I would have been satisfied just to compete. I noticed that those present were surprised that a Palestinian girl won the trophy and especially one that had only trained for ten months.” For others, she says, it would take two years to reach her level, and adds: “But I deserve it because I have the most beautiful body.”

One particularly difficult stage in the competition was appearing in a swimsuit. “It takes courage. At first it was hard, but I was determined to appear along with the other competitors after the effort that I put in, and when I was on stage I was confident and proud of presenting my muscles.”

For her parents it was also difficult. “At first my parents were against me appearing in a swimsuit on stage, but they accepted it in the end and were present at the competition,” she says.

Alongside adverse reactions in East Jerusalem circles over her immodest appearance, Belian also enjoyed encouragement from many who understood the importance of her accomplishment as an Arab woman in the secular, Israeli, and mostly male world of bodybuilding.

Belian rejects claims that her muscular body makes her masculine. “I love my strong body and I see it as beautiful and full of femininity, I had a normal body like any girl, through the sport I made a beautiful and rich body covering all criteria of femininity and beauty.”

What about marriage and having children?

“I can think about it in two years, after I’ve reached an advanced stage and built up a professional future.”

The next challenge is the World Championship in Brazil in June 2016.

“I want to spread awareness to girls of the importance of this sport and its beauty and to break the barrier of fear in them,” she concludes.


Heba Zoabi is an i24news web editor

View original i24news publication at:


Follow Anoush Belian on Facebook here.

Anoush Belian facebook page 2


  1. Ariel says:

    How does the reporter marry the fact that Anoush is both Armenian AND Palestinian?? If she is Armenian her family obviously immigrated here less than 100 years ago. And Palestinian a non-existant nationality!!

    • So….If I can be Jewish, Czechoslovakian, Israeli,
      she can’t be Christian, Armenian, Palestinian?

      Look… I know the Palestinians are a ‘made up people’ that only began in the 1960’s, but today, there are 5,000,000 of them, and the world supports their every existence. So, if they don’t exist, where’s the fukin $trillion$ that went to them for the past 50 years??

  2. Egyptian Magician says:

    She is NOT “Palestinian” she is Armenian. If she was a “Palestinian” her family would have slit her throat in an Honor Killing for shaming the family. If she is “Palestinian” so are David Blatt and Omri Caspi…

    • Now you’re confusing Palestinian with Muslim. There are also Palestinian Christians. But ‘honor’ killings are also common among Druze and Bedouin….and yes, even Arab Christians.

      No one is disputing the fact that she’s Armenian. But she only needs to choose if she’s one….or both….since we all know the Palestinians are a made up people anyway, that began in the 1960’s.

      On her facebook page, she describes herself as, “the only Armenian Palestinian Bodybuilder”

  3. Bob says:

    Does that mean Israelis are made up people that began in the 40s when there was no where else to house them?

    • The first Israelis came into being upon statehood, legal statehood conceived in law by the League of Nations, and later ratified by the United Nations under the three obligations required by int’l law. Up until then, they were refereed to as Palestinians. Even the Arabs then, refereed to the Jews as ‘Palestinians’.

      “There is no such country as ‘Palestine’. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented. Palestine is alien to us.” – Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdul Hadi, told the Peel Commission, 1937.

      Only 20 years later was the term ‘Palestinian’ stolen and used again….but in a new propaganda campaign that proved Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels right: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”

  4. kait says:

    Who cares about all of this religious nit picking? She’s globally amazing!

  5. Jerry tracey says:

    She is a beautiful woman. Who cares where she is from. Her work ethic and dedication is fabulous. Come to Canada where you will be appreciated for who and what you are, a proud and dedicated lady.

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