Katie Brumbach was one of fourteen children born to circus performers Philippe and Johanna Brumbach. In her early years, Katie performed with her family. 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 Eugene Sandow in weightlifting contest in New York. 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.