Sandwina, Woman of Steel

Among the strongmen and strongwomen in traveling shows of the early 20th century, Kate Brumbach stood out as the mighty Sandwina. Her parents were strength performers in circuses, and she took after both of them.

Kate’s natural strength came from her lineage and physical proportions.  In adolescence Kate stood just over six feet tall and weighed 187 pounds. She honed her natural abilities through intensive exercise and in her heyday was known for her bulging 17 inch biceps and 26 ½ inch thighs. Kate initially displayed her muscular girth to the paying patrons of the circuses her father contracted with. She was initially a wrestler of men and famously offered 100 marks to any man who could best her. According to legend, she never lost her bet and even gained a husband after soundly thrashing a young man by the name of Max Heymann. Heymann thought tussling with a woman would be a rather delightful way to earn 100 marks.  But by his own account he recalled only entering the ring, a blue sky and being carried away from the ring by Kate like a prize. The couple remained married for 52 years.

Heymann is pictured above with Sandwina. Kate took her stage name from Eugene Sandow, who she met when she challenged any man to a weightlifting showdown, and the famous bodybuilder stepped up. Read how that encounter turned out in the biography of Sandwina at The Human Marvels. -Thanks, Tim!


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