Miss Muscles, bodybuilding champ

By Drum Digital
08 December 2010

HER biceps swell like melons and her powerful shoulders look ready to burst out of her shirt, her torso is a rippling six-pack and her thigh muscles strain at the skin-tight pink pants she’s wearing.

In other words, Lungi Plummer’s body is a rather formidable sight – but there’s method behind her man-sized muscles. This 39-year-old mom of one is a bodybuilder – and a champion one at that.Not too long ago she was named Miss Universe in the World Physique Federation (WPF) contest, a title she scooped at the WPF World Championships in Italy. The trophy she brought home occupies pride of place in her home in Pinetown, Durban, which is already filled with medals and awards she’s won over the past 10 years.

She was blown away at being announced winner of the Miss Universe title. “It felt really good to win,” Lungi admits. “I was over the moon. People from 11 countries participated so there was a lot of competition.

“But I did work hard for it. The previous time I entered, in 2008, I came second. The contest is a real eye-opener – I was startled to see how huge the women were. The only way you could tell they were women was when you looked at their chests!”

We’re chatting to Lungi at the Pinetown gym where she works as a personal trainer. She takes us on a tour of the place and everyone greets her warmly as she passes by. She’s everyone’s favourite trainer, it seems, and she smiles as she chats away in a soft, feminine voice that is at odds with her muscular body.

Successful as she is, she knows her rural KwaZulu-Natal family frowns on her displaying her body on stage in a bikini. But here in the city people admire and respect her, especially since her international win.

Her success has landed her a pivotal role in the bodybuilding ranks of her home province – she now forms part of the International Federation of Bodybuilders’ (IFBB) KwaZulu-Natal committee, as backstage manager. “Each time our body-builders participate in provincial tournaments I’m in charge of their management behind the scenes.”

Her life revolves around keeping fit and helping others to do the same – although she never dreamt of doing anything of the sort when she was a little girl.

LUNGI grew up on a farm in the rural areas of Ndwedwe, where she used to wear a traditional skirt and walk far to a river to fetch water for the family.

“I was raised by my late grandmother and she definitely wouldn’t approve of what I’m doing. We had rigid cultural rules and I had to refer to her using her clan name, Manzana”, she says. “My father, who passed away when I was around 25, wouldn’t approve of this either.

“It’s very difficult for someone from my background to do this because some people consider being in a bikini as being naked.” Still, a childhood spent walking long distances to school or to buy groceries and having to work in the garden every day before school helped shape her into the woman she is today. She knows life is about working hard – and reaping the benefits of that hard work, too.

Read the full article in DRUM of 16 December 2010

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