A Khayelitsha bodybuilder is looking to flex enough muscle to propel him to fly the South African flag on the international stage.
Oscar Ratya, commonly known as Razor, from Site C, is headed to the coveted NPC World Wide African Pro Qualifier Championship on Saturday where if he wins he can compete in next year’s final in the UK. Having recently won first place in the iCandy Classic Mother City under 90kg competition last month, Razor is on track to go all the way.
The 34 year-old started bodybuilding at 16 and fell in love with the sport after winning first place in a bodybuilding competition hosted in Khayelitsha back in 2003. Since then Razor has taken part in numerous competitions but the costly fees associated with the sport have clipped his wings.
"My main struggles are travelling and stage fees, because the stage fee is really expensive. They charge in dollars. For a stage fee it is R3 400 or R3 300 . I am also struggling with flight and accommodation,” he said.
In 2017, Razor shot to stardom in the sport after winning four competitions, one after the another in just seven weeks.
"I won four in seven weeks and that’s when they started calling me a record breaker because I made history ," he added.
But it was not always smooth sailing for Khayelitsha’s muscleman.
After coming in third place during the 2010 Bodybuilding World Championship, Razor decided to stop competing under the South African Natural Bodybuilding Association (SNBA) and focused on International Federation of Bodybuilding Association and Fitness (IFBB) championships.
By 2014, the cost of international competitions weighed heavily on the determined competitor and saw him dropping out of international championships but continued with local competitions. This meant he could not travel to Brazil and America in 2014 and 2015 to participate in the Arnold Sports Festival.
"The guy who placed 2nd place attended because he could afford the money and received the Pro-card," said Razor.
The promoter of the NPC Worldwide and IFBB professional league in South Africa, Candice White, described Razor as a "a great guy" but said all contestants had to raise their own funds since they do not get financial support from the government because they were an international association.
Yanga Mpinda, an aspiring bodybuilder, said he met Razor in 2018 who saw potential in him and decided to mentor him.
"Razer is a passionate hard worker and is very compassionate. He sacrificed for me and sometimes gave me things for free (even) though they cost (him), such as supplements," he said.
Razor created a group in 2018 named Black Pride to train upcoming bodybuilders, but said the name does not discriminate by race. The organisation coaches people on how to train, pose and on healthy eating habits.
"What makes it difficult is lack of sponsorships or support in our townships. Before Covid-19 I had wished to do a (local) competition because I am the product of the competition that was once conducted here in the township in 2003,“ he added.
"(Since then) there was never any other competition and I feel guilty that there are no competitions until this time," he concluded.
Chairperson of the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) Ndithini Thyido applauded Rayzor’s work and promised to assist.
"We support initiatives that aims to empower people of Khayelitsha, especially the youth... we can write him a letter of support for a fundraising initiative since some of the funders know us," he said.
Spokesperson for Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Tania Colyn, said bodybuilding was represented by registered sport federations in the Cape Town and Central Karoo districts.
"Every year, the department allocates funding to sport federations through an application and consultative process in all 6 districts across the province,“ she said.
“This funding is for major events, administration, capacity building, development and or transformation and club development. This is an annual funding process which is accessible to all registered sporting federations in the province," she said.