Katie Sandwina, considered the strongest woman in the world, Katherine Brumbach was born in 1884 as the 14th child of a circus family in Vienna, Austria, and due to her extraordinary strength, she became a very popular figure in the circus circle.Katie’s father would offer one hundred marks to any man in the audience who could defeat her in wrestling; no one ever succeeded in winning the prize. It was during one such performance that Katie met her husband of fifty-two years, Max Heymann.
Brumbach once defeated the famous strongman Eugen Sandow in a weightlifting contest in New York City. Katie lifted a weight of 300 pounds over her head, which Sandow only managed to lift to his chest. After this victory, she adopted the stage name “Sandwina” as a feminine derivative of Sandow.Sandwina worked in the United States with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for many years, until she was nearly 60. One of her standard performance feats was lifting her husband (who weighed 165 pounds) overhead with one hand. She performed many other feats, such as bending steel bars and resisting the pull of four horses. Sandwina’s record stood for many years until being eclipsed by women’s weightlifter Karyn Marshall in 1987.
At the moment she was twirling her husband about in dizzy circles above her head. Carelessly, laughingly, she tosses her husband about as though he were not flesh and bone, but merely an effigy of inflated rubber. And he is no insignificant husband, either.
In her later years, Katie and her husband operated a bar and grill restaurant in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. They proudly advertised it as belonging to the world’s strongest woman and Katie would occasionally perform minor feats of strength to entertain their patrons, including breaking iron chains, bending iron bars, and using her husband as a human barbell.
Katie Sandwina died of cancer when she was aged 67′ on January 21, 1952.