THE bouncer at Pablo’z VIP is like any other you will find at any of Harare’s finer leisure spots: bulging biceps, broad shoulders and a generally imposing figure.
Except that this bouncer is not a “he”.
This is none other than Regina Jonga, a name that has become iconic in the local and regional bodybuilding community.
Her trophy cabinet would make any gym rat green with envy. She has come out tops at prestigious competitions including Arnold Classic Africa, H&H Classic, IFBB South African National Championships and Gentle Giant Classic to name a few.
Jonga’s story is one worth telling and retelling.
After moving to South Africa in 2014 in a quest to better her life, she took up domestic work. Always fitness conscious, she worked out and stayed in shape.
Jonga had started working on her physique in the backyard “gyms” that have become such a hit in Mbare, Harare.
The move to South Africa allowed her to join a real gym.
But domestic work did not pay enough and chose to put her physical attributes to good use by becoming a bouncer. The novelty of it was a hit with club managers. And in the meantime she also entered the bodybuilding circuit and found much success.
From June 2016 to last year, her Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights saw her standing guard at Amaros Club and Restaurant in Pretoria.
“From Monday to Wednesday I would be doing domestic work, and from Thursday to Saturday I would switch roles and become a bouncer,” said Jonga.
Perhaps unwilling to square up with a woman and end up on the business end of her fist, male patrons rarely give Jonga trouble.
“I don’t think there are many female bouncers out there and I know that people are fascinated when they see one, which could lead to awkward scenarios but I have never encountered any problems.
“Many people who would come to the club in South Africa were actually intrigued to see a female with so much muscle and most of the time we would chat and joke about it which made me a lot of friends rather than enemies.”
She continued: “There were not many fights at the club I was working but when that occurred, especially when there were female patrons involved, I would intervene and throw them out if it was necessary.”
The opportunity to move back home came in the form of an unfortunate incident. But as is oft said, every cloud has its silver lining.
“I came home during the festive holiday and was supposed to go back to South Africa on the fifth (of January) but unfortunately I lost my passport on the way and only realised it at the border so I had to come back.
“A friend of mine, Joseph, who works at Pablo’z and knows that I have been working as a bouncer in SA, asked if I wanted to come and work there while I waited for my passport. I only worked one weekend at Pablo’z but the money that I was paid was far much better than what I was getting in SA.”
So she stayed.
That one weekend was enough to convince the club’s management to add her to their employee list.
“I am now fully employed at Pablo’z and would just want to thank the owner and management for believing in me. This is a big deal because it means I will no longer be working in a foreign land and will only have to go there for competitions,” she said.
From training in a makeshift gym in Mbare to becoming a dominant force in the international bodybuilding circuit, this lady has come a long way.
Bodybuilding does not pay much when you have not yet earned an IFBB pro card, which enables one to compete for serious money.
The pro card, which is every bodybuilder’s ultimate goal, is very difficult to obtain but it is something Jonga has set her sights on.
No one should bet against her achieving her goal.
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