Zimbabwe's Mr Ugly: 'I am quite the ladies man' By KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Friday, June 10  2011 at  10:08

Mr Austin Mbewe,30 (C). Winner of Zimbabwe's 'Mr Ugly' crown. PHOTO | A CORRESPONDENT 
Zimbabwe's Mr Ugly 2011, Austin Mbewe, flanked by runners-up Kudakwashe Chiramba (left) and Chitova Chezira. Far right is last year's winner Elmas Moses Photo | NEW ZIMBABWE  

Austin Mbewe, the Zimbabwean man who last weekend took the coveted title of Mr Ugly, says he has always been a hit with the ladies.

Mbewe (22) was chosen by a panel of women as this year’s winner of the unique pageant which drew a strong field of 15 ugly men.

“I had a normal upbringing,” Mbewe told Africa Review. “Like any other kid I was given nicknames but I never felt discriminated against.

“In fact girls used to like me and they still do but of course there are men who try to make fun of me.

“I always ignore them.”

He has a 22 year-old girlfriend he plans to marry soon. Mbewe, who is from the second city of Bulawayo, walked away with $173 and a blanket in prizes.

The contest described as tight by Zimbabwean media was held at Pagomo Heights Leisure Center in Beitbridge, on the border with South Africa.

Event organiser Lovemore Chonzi, a retired member of the Zimbabwe National Army band, said the models were selected after a number of roadshows around Beitbridge to scout for the ugliest men.

“It was a tight contest and I am happy that I managed to beat everyone,” Mbewe said. “I am proud of my natural looks, I don’t wish to change.”

He says no one in his family of five looks like him and he believes his only brother is handsome.

Breaking monotony

His other three siblings are girls and he says all of them have good looks.

Touchmore Denyathi and Thomas Magwegwe both from Beitbridge were also named the two other Mr Ugly Personalities.

Chonzi says the idea of “Mr Ugly” was conceived in 2008 when he met with his friends to discuss ways of breaking the monotony in the modelling industry dominated by skinny women.

The weekend event was the third Mr Ugly contest and the organisers are now dreaming big.

“Our contest, which seeks to celebrate the beauty in ugly men, has mainly been for men in and around Beitbridge,” Chonzi said. “But we now want to go national before considering the SADC region.

“I have been receiving calls from all over the world from journalists who are fascinated by this concept. There are big things that will come out of Mr Ugly Zim.”

Chonzi’s concept has also sparked interest among enterprising Zimbabweans and on Monday another Mr Ugly Zimbabwe contest was staged in Harare.

However, the owners of the original concept have threatened to go to court saying the organisers of the Harare event stole their idea.

The Mr Ugly pageant is supported by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and National Arts Council.

Contestants were scored on their style in four categories: casual, smart, safari and sport.