Kanakis was born in Kavala, on August 27, 1927, and started his career at local club Elpis. He transferred to AEK from AEK Kavala in 1948 and played until the 1959 - 1960 season. He was capped once by the Greek National Football Team.
In 2004, Kanakis took part in the celebration for the 80th anniversary of AEK in Istanbul. He was the oldest ex-AEK player to do so.