On a normal day she is just a domestic worker based in Pretoria, South Africa.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
But a fortnight ago she capped a memorable year on the bodybuilding front when she scooped the coveted Ms Zimbabwe title at a glittering event at 7 Arts and Theater in Harare.
This is the story of Mutoko-born female bodybuilder Regina Jonga who decided to join the iron pumping sport back in 2012 at Mbare’s Matapi Gym and has so far bagged seven titles, both locally and in South Africa.
“I never thought I was going to ever hold the Ms Zimbabwe title in my hands, so when I clinched it I was very happy, especially now that I am going to represent Zimbabwe at the Arnold Classics 2016 in South Africa,” the 38-year-old Zimbabwean champion told Standardsport.
Having initially started bodybuilding as a way of keeping away from the hardship and vices associated with life in Mbare, it appears that Jonga and bodybuilding clicked so well they became one.
The year 2015 has been Jonga’s best so far, having won the 2015 South Africa H&H Women Physique title, the South Africa Steve Biko Show, Ms Limpopo, Ms Iron Lady 2015 and the big one — Ms Zimbabwe.
This year’s title haul adds to the Ms Novice silverware that she scooped in 2012 and the Ms Iron Lady she took in 2013.
“Bodybuilding has changed my life because before I started I had never been on television or in the newspapers, but now all that has changed and I am now popular. Many people know that there is Regina and with what I am winning, my life keeps getting better every day,” Jonga said.
A single mother with the responsibility of providing for her two daughters, Natasha (15) and Nicole (13), Jonga says she will not leave her fulltime job as a domestic worker until such a time that she makes it onto the international scene.
With her win at the Mr and Ms Zimbabwe competition, Jonga has qualified for the prestigious 2016 Arnold Classic where she is set to hoist the Zimbabwean flag high.
She believes that success at the Arnold Classic will propel her onto the international scene, which is her ultimate goal.
“I want to continue working hard so that I can win the Arnold Classics and compete overseas and raise the Zimbabwean flag high on the international stage. That is my ultimate goal and I will do everything within my power to make sure I reach that level,” Jonga said.
In Zimbabwe, Jonga has however, almost had a free run to titles as very few women enter the bodybuilding main event, opting for other less muscular categories.
At Mr and Ms Iron Man in Kadoma on September 5 this year, she won the title unchallenged and at the Mr and Ms Zimbabwe competition she shrugged off the challenge from former champion Christine Matange, the only other competitor on the night.
She took the opportunity to encourage other women to follow her footsteps and try a hand in bodybuilding.
“Bodybuilding is a good sport and I just want to encourage others out there to give it a shot. I am proud to be a bodybuilder, but most importantly, it is putting food on my table and helps to keep me healthy,” the former Mwanza Secondary School student said.
For a woman with so much muscle, she inevitably has to pay the price of having men scurrying for cover at the sight of her.
“Some men are so afraid of me, especially here in South Africa. When I move around in a muscle top I can see men would rather avoid me, but back home it’s different. In Zimbabwe I get a lot of attention, with some trying to start conversations with me.
“Generally, I am viewed as a woman back home, which I am. I am just a woman and a mother like everybody else and I am not violent at all,” she said.
Born on October 1 1977, in a big family comprising two brothers and four sisters, life has not been rosy for Jonga, who has been in a failed marriage.
Despite the fact that she only took up the sport at the age of 35, bodybuilding has given Jonga considerable fame and prospects of a good life. She says she owes her new life to a friend who invited her to the gym so they could have fun.
“I will always be grateful to people like Quiet Shangai, Munashe Matandirotya, Champion Chienderamwano, Teasdale Sam and many other members of the bodybuilding fraternity in Zimbabwe who have helped me in my career so far,” she said.