Freak has taken on a whole new meaning in the reality TV era, where everyone from “house wives” to tattoo addicts are spectacles of the highest order. But, the term used to be quite synonymous with one of the most enduring forms of entertainment—the circus!
The bearded lady, Siamese twins, the wolfman, the monkey boy, and all manner in between, circus freaks have captured the imagination of young and old. Not surprisingly one of history’s most notable circus freaks, billed the World’s Strongest Woman, is none other than a Kate!
Katie Sandwina, born Katie Brumback (Vienna, Austria in 1884) traveled the United States with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus until she was nearly 60, retiring an undefeated champion.
Her father started her in her career, offering 100 marks to any man who could best her in wrestling—and no one ever won the prize. Sandwina earned her last name in a bout with the famous strongman Eugene Sandow, beating him with ease in a weightlifting competition. Sandow managed to get to his chest, what Katie lifted clear over her head! Upon her victory, she stole his name using the female derivative.
Standing 6 foot tall and weighing over 200 pounds, Katie held the female weightlifting record for over 75 years, with an overlift of 286 pounds circa 1911!
So the next time you think you’re just not strong enough, remember—you are a Kate and we are mighty!