Katie (Kate) Brumbach ("Great Sandwina") - possibly the best ever known strongwoman. She was born in 1884 in Vienna, Austria and passed away in 1952. Katie was the second oldest of 15 children whose parents were circus performers. Her parents, Philippe and Johanna Brumbach acted as a powerful pair in fairs and circuses and they had fourteen children. Kate participated in circus spectacles with her family, and the most exciting moment came when her father offered 100 marks to any man in the audience who would capable to defeat his daughter Kate in wrestling. According to the legend, nobody earned the 100 marks. Her husband of 52 years, Max Heymann, was one of those daredevils who accepted the challenge.
Famous powerlifter Eugene Sandow appeared in New York and responded to Kate’s strength challenge. Kate started lifting weights increasingly heavier and heavier and Sandow, subsequently, caught the ones she left and lifted them at the same time. Finally, Kate lifted a weight of 300 pounds (136 kg) on the level of her head whereas Sandow was able to lift it just to his chest, and Kate won the contest. Overpowering Sandow she decided to adopt the artistic name of "Sandwina" (female derivative from "Sandow"). She was capable to lift her husband of 75 kilograms above the head with just one arm and often used him in performances as a dumbbell. Among her actions were: tossing up iron balls of 14 kilograms which then she caught by the back of the neck; maintaining a carousel of 14 persons on her shoulders and bending iron bars of 5 centimeters in diameter
During the 1920s, 1930 and the beginning of the 1940, she worked in the United States. In 1941 season at the age of 57, Sandwina still worked as powerlifter in the "Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus". At 64 year old she still was able to break horseshoes and to double bars of iron with the hands as well as to lift her husband with one hand. Subsequently she and her husband opened a restaurant in New York. Their son, Theodore Sandwina, was a famous heavyweight boxing champion in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Edited from: Iron Ladies of the Old Times