Now in his 70s, Michael Sanya aka Mickey Ragos was and still is Kenya’s undisputed muscleman , claiming body building’s Mr. Kenya title a record 11 titles.
In a 2013 interview with the DAILY NATION, he revealed how he joined bodybuilding while in school at Limuru’s Ngarariga Secondary School, saying, “I had joined the boxing club, and one day I went home nursing a black eye,” Ragos laughs.
“My mother gave me this dagger look and no words were necessary. That was it, I was out of boxing.”
The son of a Kenya Railways employee who lived in Nairobi’s Makongeni after relocating from Busia, Ragos had already won the Mr. Nairobi title by the time he had finished high school in 1966. He won it consecutively between 1966 and 1969 before winning the prestigious Mr. Kenya title in 1969, the first of many titles over the ensuing years.
He only missed on competing in 1972 and 1973 to get married. As he told the DAILY NATION in that same interview, his father had cautioned him that he wouldn’t be able to father children if he kept up on the body building, prompting the hiatus.
“The birth of my daughter disproved my father. After that, I was back full time,” Ragos bellows. The ensuing decade would see Ragos stamp his resume as the eminent body building champ as he added to his trophy chest year after year.
“Every time I won, I was back in the gym the very next day, no let up,” he explains. “Most people would be complacent, I had to be different.”
Over the years, Ragos represented Kenya in various international body building competitions as Mr. Olympia, Mr. Universe and the World Championships.
By the time the famous Mr Carnivore competition was introduced in 1990, Ragos had been Mr Kenya a record 11 times. The Mr Carnivore competition was revolutionary in that it brought with it cash prizes and held more glitz.
Ragos won the crown four times before quitting in 1993 while still on top of his game.
After a brief stint as Assistant Secretary of the Kenya Body Building Federation, Ragos worked as fitness trainer in Nairobi before setting up thee Ragos Gym in Dandora, Nairobi.
Speaking to fitness blog, Generation Iron in January 2018, Ragos said, ” I opened a gym, Ragos Gym in Dandora. Nowadays I am what you may call a freelance trainer. I opened the gym with my savings and financial help from other people. That is the job I do fulltime…running the gym and training bodybuilders.”
He still trains two to three times a week and noted that he cannot retire from training, saying, ” Most of my age mates just sit idle…which is not advisable. If you are idle you will gain weight….you may be affected by lifestyle diseases too…70 is not the age to stop training.”
Clearly his mantra has ensured that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as three of his sons, Godfrey Sanya, Fred Sanya and Arnold Sanya are all involved in body building. Godfrey is based in Doha, Qatar where he works as a gym instructor, Fred, himself a former Mr. Kenya is based in New York, USA where he works as a fitness instructor and is a previous Musclemania pro champion.
*content for this piece derived from the DAILY NATION , Generation Iron and the internet.