Top Bodybuilders of the 90s: Nasser El Sonbaty

Nasser El Sonbaty: Of all of the mass monsters to grace the Olympia stage, only one of them had enough conditioning, symmetry, and balance to truly challenge a reigning Mr. O for the throne- Nasser El Sonbaty.  Sonbaty, who defied stereotypes to the point that his nickname was “The Professor,” spoke multiple languages fluently, moved huge weights in the gym, and competed in 53 IFBB competitions.  To say that he is just one of the greats of the 1990’s actually does him a disservice, as he should be included in a conversation of the greatest bodybuilders of all time.


Nasser El Sonbaty hailed from Germany and began bodybuilding at the age of 18, in 1983, as a student at the University of Augsburg.  After training for two years, Sonbaty first competed in bodybuilding in 1985, then turned pro in 1990.  Tipping the scales at between 270 and 290 at 5’11” during his professional career, Sonbaty was known to bulk to up to 330 in the offseason without losing his abdominal definition.  Though the term “freak” is often bandied about for a wide array of freakish to fairly average bodybuilders, Nasser belongs very squarely in the middle of a conversation about real freaks, along with guys like Markus Ruhl, Roelly Winklaar, Greg Kovacs, Ronnie Coleman, and Big Ramy.


Unlike most of the aforementioned, Nasser managed to come into the Olympia consistently huge, separated, and vascular year after year, placing third three times and second once at the Olympia, and winning numerous lesser contests.  Nasser’s career spanned 15 years and over 60 bodybuilding magazine covers, which is also unusual for a bigger bodybuilder, as they usually seem to burn bright and burn out quickly.  Tragically, that massive size and insane conditioning came at a cost, and in retirement Nasser began suffering from persistent kidney infections and other health problems.  He died of kidney failure in 2013, the same year as fellow mass monster Greg Kovacs, and though he never won the Olympia crown he is considered by many in death to have been an uncrowned Mr. Olympia.


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