Simangele Mbanjwa is tough‚ determined and disciplined - and everything from her diet to her training is planned.
And it’s worked - the Durbanite is the toughest firefighter in the world!
Mbanjwa is the reigning world champion after winning the Toughest Firefighter Alive competition in Germany in 2017.
And on Friday‚ Mbanjwa was working to retain her domestic title at the SA leg of this year’s Toughest Firefighter Alive competition‚ held in Cape Town.
Mbanjwa‚ 31‚ joined the eThekwini fire brigade in 2011 and has worked her body and mind into peak physical shape.
“Mentally I am strong - and physically. I’m training very hard. Even my meals‚ I don’t just eat anything; I try to maintain a certain diet‚” she said.
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After winning the local competition and going on to win the world competition last year‚ it’s clear her efforts are paying off.
The event saw Mbanjwa taking part in a 24-floor stair climb while carrying 25-litre drums (weighing 25kg each) in each hand‚ a 95kg “dummy drag” over 60m‚ and a climb over a 2.5m wall - all while in full firefighter gear.
“In Germany the competition was very tough. All the champions from their respective countries were there and I was representing South Africa. I won that competition‚ so I’m the world’s toughest firefighter in the women section‚” said Mbanjwa.
According to the event’s website‚ the Toughest Firefighter Alive championship is a “high-octane mix of head-to-head competition‚ sports and entertainment”.
The event “puts the contestants through a series of individual challenges‚ pushing them to their limits and beyond and leaving the spectators in absolutely no doubt as to just how gruelling fire callouts can be.”
Mbanjwa said she wanted to win the SA Toughest Firefighter Alive competition in Cape Town again this year and go on to retain her title as the world’s toughest women firefighter.
“To those women who want to be a firefighter: first they must love to rescue people‚ to save people’s lives‚ because that’s what we do‚” said Mbanjwa.
“Our priorities are to save people’s lives‚ the property as well as the environment.”
Mbanjwa will be in action in the individual competition on Saturday August 11 at the Roeland Street fire station in Cape Town.