Don’t be fooled by her beauty. Pro bikini competitor Raphaela Milagres can be very dangerous if the need arises. Of late, the 26-year-old has been practicing “the art of eight limbs,” Muay Thai, the devastating combat discipline that makes ample use of the fists, elbows, shins, and knees as weapons. Consider it an aggressive evolution of all her athletic pursuits growing up in Minas Gerais, Brazil, an array that included gymnastics, jazz dance, and ballet.
Meanwhile, she’s been hard at work in the weight room since she was 16, developing the 5’4″, 105-pound physique that has been helping her knock out the competition (figuratively, at least) on the bikini circuit. After winning her pro card at the 2013 Arnold Classic South America, she launched her own personal training business a year later and then made the decision to take a huge step in 2016.
“I moved to Winter Garden, FL, to focus on my athletic career,” Milagres says. Stateside, she was much more available for opportunities in the fitness industry and could more readily travel for competition. The change of venue helped almost immediately, as 2018 proved to be a watershed year for Milagres in the IFBB Professional League. She collected two titles—the 2018 Governors Cup Pro and the 2018 Fit World Pro—as well as a runner-up medal at the 2018 Salt City Showdown, capping the year with an eighth-place finish at the Bikini Olympia in Las Vegas.
Looking ahead, Milagres has a new goal set firmly in her sights: a top-five finish at the 2019 Bikini O. “I’m working on improvements to my physique, more muscle roundness and maturity,” she says. “I think I’m a hard worker, and I have great guidance from my coach, Kim Oddo. There are a lot of good girls with amazing potential in this sport—what makes the difference is the commitment and consistency to push yourself further.”