A Zimbabwe man took the coveted title of Mr. Ugly at a weekend pageant judged by a panel of women.
Austin Mbewe, 30, from the city of Bulawayo was crowned Mr. Ugly in what local news reports called a “tightly contested” race. He won $173 and a blanket.
(See a photo of Mr. Ugly winner Austin Mbewe, via a Zimbabwean website.)
"I feel greatly honored by this victory,” he told the Herald, a state-run newspaper. “I have been a subject of ridicule from society since childhood and the world has seen that there is a beautiful side to my ugliness.”
"I am very confident with my natural looks and confident about it. It was a tight contest but at the end of the day my hard work was rewarded," Mbewe said.
The gala at the Pagomo Heights Leisure Centre in Beitbridge, on the border with South Africa, reportedly drew hundreds of spectators and a long line of cars was seen leading to the event.
A total of 15 ugly men had been expected to hit the runway, but six of them developed “cold feet” at the last minute, the Herald reports.
The Mr. Ugly pageant, which was being held for a third year, is supported by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and National Arts Council. All the judges were women, and the contestants were scored on their style in four categories: casual, smart casual, safari and sports.
"Basically the competition is meant for people to have fun and celebrate who they are just like any other contests in the world,” event organizer Lovemore Chonzi said.
Mbewe was a clear-cut winner, the paper reports, noting that “he moved the crowd from the onset when he took to the ramp” and “everyone agreed he was the right man for the Mr. Ugly throne.”
The pageant also named two Mr. Ugly Personalities — Touchmore Denyathi and Thomas Magwegwe, both from the town of Beitbridge.
Last year’s champion was 43-year-old Elmas Chiganda, who after winning declared that “I might be ugly but I have a good heart.”
Another previous Mr. Ugly winner, Peter Chikomakoma, won $215, a big axe and a goat for his efforts.