Grandmaster Ladan Homayoon Sefat exudes gratitude and exhales pain from his past.
As she meditates in her wellness and fitness center, Ladan’s Wellness Sanctuary in Beverly Hills, she reflects on her arduous journey to becoming a world champion in taekwondo.
“When I was little it was my dream to become champion. Iranian champion; also world champion. Everything was a dream,” said Homayoon Sefat.
At the time, it was really just a dream. Ladan was limited by radical Islamic laws in Iran, which prohibited women from participating in fitness exercises in front of men.
But her ardent passion pushed her to push the limits. She even sneaked into men’s gyms dressed as a boy so she could learn the latest techniques. But eventually she would get caught, beat up, and be sent home.
“Can you believe who my instructor was? Jackie Chan, thanks to Hollywood, Sylvester Stalone. I watched and rented the videotapes. I watched the whole series, I practiced. They were my role models, my real instructors and masters. ” she explained.
After Homayoon Sefat’s father died when she was 17, she did the unthinkable. She signed up for a taekwondo competition in Germany, telling the Iranian government she was going to watch him. And to her surprise, she won. Not once, but twice.
As his fame grew, so did the government’s wrath. They accused her of sexualizing herself and threw her in jail.
“They threw me in a cage for three nights. They poured water on the carpet. The smell is still in my nose and in my mind. It was terrible. I couldn’t breathe. After that. , I got flogged 72 times, ”Homayoon said. said Sefat.
Homayoon Sefat was eventually forced to train Afghan terrorists, and she said it was the last straw for her.
She used all her resources and planned a dangerous but successful escape from her homeland, eventually settling in Los Angeles.
Homayoon Sefat said she is grateful for her freedom here and, more importantly, that she hopes to use it to empower women through the resilience she has gained. Homayoon Sefat felt compelled to publicly share her survival journey after seeing the most recent Taliban activity targeting women in Kabul.
“Some of them don’t have an opportunity. And we have to make that possibility for them too. It is my passion, my mission and I will fight for myself and for all women,” he said. she declared.