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Monika Klisara

I AM ALFA because I've taken every chance I could to get where I am today, and I've never stopped creating the life I desire for myself.

Photography by: Noosha Kargarfard

I originally come from a background of Serbian-Croatian descent. Born in the Balkans during war, my family fled to Canada in order to seek a stable living environment. Considering we were an inter-cultural family, and the war back home broke out because of cultural differences, my parents knew we had to leave in order to survive. I came to Canada at the age of 3 and have been raised in Toronto ever since.

My karate journey started when I was 5 years old. I was too young to know what I wanted to do then, but I grew up with my older brother playing soccer every day. His passion and drive motivated me to try something as well. The way I started karate was a sheer sign from the universe, and now I even believe it might've been fate.

My dad played soccer and my mom used to dance, so those were the only two options they gave me. Being the youngest child, I knew I had to make the right choice... I didn't want to do either. We drove by a plaza at the exact moment we were discussing what I could choose, when I saw it. A massive sign with "KARATE" written on it. I knew right then and there, and that's what I chose. From starting karate at the age of 5, to competing and winning my first gold medal at the age of 7, I qualified for the Ontario Provincial team at the youngest eligible age 14 and later qualified for the Canadian National team at age 15. I've been training karate for 20 years and have currently been on the National team for 10 of those years.

I AM ALFA because I've had to fight my whole life. Not just physically fight, but fight through any obstacle I've had to face and fight for any opportunity I wanted for myself. I grew up with a mindset that anything was possible for me, because I've seen my family, myself and those I surround myself with achieve the impossible. I consider myself an ALFA because I've taken every chance I could to get where I am today, and I've never stopped creating the life I desire for myself.

What are the most rewarding things that Fitness has brought you? Fitness has completely shaped me not only physically but mentally too. The most rewarding things that I've gained from the Fitness world is discipline, confidence, passion, and being surrounded with likeminded individuals.

When was the most ALFA moment in your life, and why? The most ALFA moment in my life was winning the Karate Commonwealth Championships. It was a tough year overall in competition for me, and one of the largest competitions was coming up (Commonwealth Games). Before travelling to South Africa to compete, I fell short of medal rounds in 3 competitions prior to the Commonwealth championships. Although I felt defeated, I knew I had nothing to lose. When I finally competed, I left it all on the mats. I knew this was an ALFA moment for me because I didn’t second guess myself one bit. I didn’t let outside noise affect me, or my past dictate how I would perform that day. I stayed true to who I was and all I had trained for. I trusted my journey and prepared for my time to come. I stayed patient and didn’t give up, so when the time was right, I was right where I needed to be.

How Has Covid-19 impacted your daily life?

Covid-19 has impacted my daily life immensely. Being able to go to two practices a day, between the dojo and the gym have been restricted to at home training. Being able to see my physio for helping my body stay in the best form has been cut down to a strict if-need-be basis. Although I feel as though my freedoms have been severely narrowed, I know the whole world is suffering as one. I believe if we stick through it a little longer, we’ll all get right back on track.

Please share up to 5 things people don’t know about you.

Both my brother and I were named after professional athletes. I was named after a tennis player, and somehow still chose karate haha

I have an Eidetic memory (also known as photographic memory). I remember everything based off of where I was and what I was looking at during that time. This is both a blessing and a curse!

I am double jointed (Hypermobility) throughout my whole body. Although some may think that’s a plus for an athlete, I actually had to work a lot harder on my balance and strength to keep my joints from moving away from my center of gravity.

I’ve visited 28 countries and counting! 5 of the 7 continents. My dream is to be able to visit at least 50 countries and all of the continents.

I was born with one natural black streak in my hair! My mom noticed as my hair started growing blonde, I had one dark spot that never seemed to go away (I still have it under all the layers of my hair!)

Please name up to 5 ALFA people you know.

MY MAMA!!! Literal superwoman, nothing is impossible for that lady.

My sensei, Antonio Terra. I owe so much of my karate success to his guidance.

My strength coach, Alvin Diaz. The most resilient person I know, inside and outside of the gym.

My provincial coach and sensei, Karl Sutton. Believed in me before I could believe in myself, and always gave me a place to call home.

The last one is going to have to be 3 people on the same pedestal! My 3 best friends; Sharina, Madeena, and Vanessa. Been in my corner from day 1. Kept me focused on my goals and supported me through every high and every low.

What would be the ultimate tips, in point form, you could share with everyone about LIFE?

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses! We only have one life, remember to be mindful and enjoy the present moment.

When you feel lost, remember you’re in control.

The more you give, the more fulfilled you become.

Learn to adapt to any situation you’re in, as if it’s the situation you wanted. When you accept life’s curveballs for what they are, you move through them with ease and gain experience on the way.

Confidence starts with knowing yourself and trusting who you are wholeheartedly. We need more of YOU in the world, be that.

Your top favourite quote.


Where people can find both of you?

Instagram: @heyits_monika

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