MR. WORLD 2013: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

Mister World is usually regarded as the premier male international pageant, but the frustrating thing is that it is not held annually unlike its other counterparts.  Despite the not-so-regular intervals of its staging, it still regularly attracts the creamiest specimens of masculinity from all over the world, and to their credit they strike a nice balance that still showcase glamour but providing a more acceptably masculine bent by featuring an emphasis on athleticism–especially in recent editions.

It is true that the Miss World organization has been de-emphasizing the swimwear (or beachwear) aspect of pageants–it applies for both the female and male counterparts.  But at least in the female version, there is still an event where the ladies parading in beachwear, even if it’s no longer done during the finals.  Unfortunately that cannot be said with Mister World as in both the 2007 and 2010 editions, there is no beach wear round, and barely any shirtless photos of the contestants during the conduct of the pageant.  The same is likely to apply in official events as there is no beach fashion challenge event–the available events are Extreme Sports (a.k.a. the assault course), Sports, Multimedia, Talent, and Fashion & Style.

But the difference in this year’s edition is that with the multimedia aspect of the competition, the contestants use their Facebook pages to post their own photos, and they treated their fans with shirtless photos of themselves in the gym or chilling out at the hotel pool.  This at least partially compensates for the lack of a swimwear round (which is a staple in both Manhunt International and Mister International).  In the three installments of this essay, I shall provide treats to male pageant fans by showcasing some of those gym and pool pics.

Gym time (from L-R): Spain, Croatia, Puerto Rico, Bulgaria, Bolivia, Philippines, and India

I’ve organized my review of the Mister World contestants according to their groupings (a good thing is unlike at Miss World, it is fully disclosed to the public who is grouped with whom).  Let’s now assess their prospects starting with the Blue Team

THE BLUE TEAM: The chief characteristic of this team is that the biggest standouts in the Extreme Sports and Sports challenges come from this team.  Three of the Top Four Extreme Sports finalists are from this team (Colombia, Croatia, and Philippines) and although the same three guys were the only members of the team who advanced to the Top 12 in the Sports challenge, they tend to figure in the top rungs in most challenge sub-events.  This team seems to be dominant in the Extreme Sports challenge so if there is a team competition they would win handily, and there is that possibility that the ace players scored high enough to also propel their team to victory in the Sports challenge, even if there are only three of them compared to seven in the Green Team.  This team also made major inroads in the Talent challenge, with seven of them shortlisted and five making the final list.

GO! BLUE TEAM!
Two of the Top Four Extreme Sports challenge finalists, Croatia and Philippines, joined by Mexico and Costa RIca behind them.
Extreme Sports challenge qualifiers: Philippines, Colombia, Latvia, Croatia, and Netherlands. Philippines, Colombia, and Croatia made Top Four.

BOLIVIA – Christian Baez.  The most striking thing about this fellow is his remarkable resemblance to a young Prince William.  He performed a fierce dance to Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been” and is shortlisted in the Talent challenge Top Ten.  It is possible he can parlay his Prince William resemblance to a semifinal placement.

Considering that Venezuela is his roommate, I wonder why he is not photographed with the other Latinos in his group?  There seems to be a tight quartet going on with Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela…

At the talent auditions
with Latvia and Vietnam
Prince William in his younger days (image sourced from biographyonline.com)

BRAZIL – William Rech.  Some might say that the quality of the Brazilian representatives declined since Gustavo Gianetti’s victory nine years ago.  I might agree with that, but the Brazilian representatives were still of a high standard and the decline is not at all precipitous but more gradual–we still have the hunkalicious Lucas Gil (1st runner-up) and Jonas Sulzbach (semifinalist and Top Model fast-track winner), you know.  Some pageant fans and pundits may have serious objections about his stubble, but I think it gives him character, and he exudes an outgoing personality that could be catnip to the judges who can grant him a semifinalist slot.

Touring Kent
Latino buddies: Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela

COLOMBIA – Francisco Escobar.  There are some angles that I find unflattering, but otherwise, he seems to be almost assured of a semifinals slot, if not a possible Top Five placement.  He exudes polished model glamour, and he showed he is a force to be reckoned with in the challenge events, making the initial cut in talent with his magic act and particularly shining in both Extreme Sports and Sports challenges.

Another reason why I’m bullish on his chances is that he has a resemblance to one of the hunkiest celebrities in Philippine showbiz–Carlos Agassi.

Performing a magic trick during the talent auditions
Latino Blue Team quartet in the bus: Colombia, Peru, Brazil, with Venezuela at the back
You think he’s struggling and needing Venezuela’s help? He actually kicked butt!
Carlos Agassi (image sourced from fitness.bf-1.com)

CROATIA – Vanja Grgeć.  He has a scruffy man-next-door handsomeness that reminds me of actor Mark Ruffalo.  His commitment to athleticism is admirable and off the roof–even for the talent challenge he showcased his gymnastic abilities.  But of course he shone brightest in both the Extreme Sports and Sports challenges–for the former it seems he or Colombia would be the challenge champion and be assured of a slot in the finals.  Another winning factor that could make him a sleeper front-runner is that judging from his video below, he speaks excellent English.  His gymnastic and athletic skills made me think that if Marcus Scheving decides to hire someone to play his character Sportacus from the hit children’s series Lazytown for the Balkan market (or maybe to succeed him in the role), he can be an ideal candidate.

Showcasing his fitness around London
Croatia’s gymnastic routine for the Talent challenge
Mark Ruffalo (image courtesy of Getty Images)
Magnus Scheving as Sportacus (image courtesy of Lazytown and Nick Jr.)

CZECH REPUBLIC – Milan Nevosad.  The first thing I noticed about him is that he’s a very tall and handsome guy–he might be the tallest amongst the 48 contestants.  He seems to evoke the vibe of a “gentle giant”, who could never harm a fly and ready for cuddles from little kids (who will hug him like hugging a sequoia tree).  I know there are a lot of girls who would dig that.  He made the Top 10 in the Talent challenge with his dance performance.

Performing a modern dance for the talent audition
Height comparisons, from biggest to smallest: Czech Republic, South Africa, and Canada

GERMANY – Alessandro Izzo.  He stands out because of his very handsome face and that constant pompadour on his head.  Apparently he can keep that pompadour intact even in grueling activities like the Extreme Sports challenge.  It’s a good thing he is not competing in Manhunt or Mister International as we discovered in a gym photo (see my review on Mr. Italy in the last part of my review) that his physique is rather skinny and not as well-defined–he would’ve been docked points for that.  Wonder if he’s a candidate for the Fashion & Style challenge, as they have not disclosed the shortlist as of this writing?

Pompadour still intact after assault course!
Pompadour duo: France & Germany

GUADELOUPE – Wendy Villeronce.  He is handsome, but my issue is he doesn’t pop out in any of the photos taken of him–he is the male equivalent of “just another pretty face”.

Guadeloupe & Martinique

LATVIA – Kaspars Romanovs.  To be blunt, he has one of the homeliest faces amongst this batch, but well, we cannot deny his athleticism (he was shortlisted for the Blue Team in Extreme Sports) and his imposing stature.  He facially resembles Danish chef Claus Meyer (of New Scandinavian Cooking).  His redeeming value is that he seems to be a wacky fellow, judging from some goofy pictures I’ve seen of him.

Shaking hands with the reigning Mr. World, Kamal Ibrahim
Goofy photo by the pool
Danish chef Claus Meyer (image sourced from nofima.no)

LEBANON – Rodolphe Bou Nader.  Mister World loves this country, and Lebanon has been enjoying a streak that began back in 2000.  It is likely this guy is going to sustain that streak, as he has great looks and an outgoing personality.  He facially resembles the winner of the 3rd season of the US series Survivor, Ethan Zohn.  He’s so outgoing, in fact, that he shows up in so many gym and pool photos, often shirtless.  You’ll see plenty of him in subsequent portions of this essay.

Before entering the assault course…
…immediately after the assault course
The first of several shirtless pics of this fellow…
Survivor Season 3 champion Ethan Zohn (image courtesy of Miller/Getty Images for Tabu Ultra Lounge)

NETHERLANDS – Bas Gosewisch.  I find his features very intriguing, as it’s very Eurasian. I’ve heard his mom is Chinese that led to his striking features.  That kind of intriguing look could be magic catnip for the Fashion & Style challenge and the panel of judges.  He also displayed enough athleticism in the Extreme Sports challenge to be part of the Top Five in the Blue Team.  In the original talent auditions, since the hotel did not have a piano he could only show internet videos of his piano (and perhaps guitar, since he could play that, too) playing, but he was finally able to showcase his skills in another venue and is shortlisted to the Top 10 in the Talent challenge.

After the fitness tests with Mr. Mexico (Enrique Mayagoitia)
Playing piano at a pub

NORTHERN IRELAND – Michael Francis McCann.  He’s very attractive, and seems outgoing, though he doesn’t quite seem to stand out as much amongst his peers.  Still, if he charms the judges enough he could make the final cut.

At St. Radigunds Garden in Kent
At the video shoot: Mexico, Philippines, and Northern Ireland. The latter two happen to be roommates.

PERU – Rodrigo Fernandini Chu.  His facial features are not conventionally handsome, but he knows how to carry himself with style, he exudes exotic sex appeal, and he has an enviable physique.  If he charms the judging panel he could secure a semifinals slot–but then, there are so many others who could make convincing arguments for their cause, too.

Touring Canterbury
Checkin’ out his fitness: self-portrait with mobile phone

PHILIPPINES – Andrew Wolff.  Finally, we have fielded a true contender.  It’s savvy for Cory Quirino to handpick this famous local celebrity (sometime model/actor and now national rugby player) as he turns out to be an ideal fit for this contest, especially with its athletic emphasis.  He delivered the goods with his good modelworthy looks, but he shone best in both athletic challenges:  Top Four in the Extreme Sports challenge with Blue Team colleagues Colombia and Croatia, and winning both the sprint and football portions of the Sports challenge.  One might assume he might be granted the Sports fast-track into the finals with those first-place finishes, but one has to note he faltered terribly in the swimming round.  Still, he made his presence felt, and I’m looking forward to that big breakthrough for our country in this pageant.

Hitting the gym
On track to winning the soccer round of the Sports challenge
Sprint winners – Colombia (2nd), Philippines (1st), and Martinique (3rd)

RUSSIA – Kiril Bondarenko.  Prior to the conduct of his pageant, I was most impressed with his pre-arrival photos that I thought he could be the one to beat.  He seemed to fizzle since then, but he still has a manly handsomeness that could still allow him to garner a semifinal slot.

During the fitness test
Visiting All Saint’s Church in Canterbury

VENEZUELA – Jessus Zambrano.  Pageant fans and pundits wished he cropped his hair instead of letting it grow out like it has, as his cropped hair modeling shots seemed hotter.  But I don’t mind his current look.  He is competing at a very high level, but so is practically everybody else.  He has an edge as he’s shortlisted in the Talent challenge with his martial arts and drum routine.  There is also buzz amongst pageant fans and pundits that he is a possible front-runner for the multimedia challenge, as his Canterbury tour videos have the freshest approach and some nice slick montage edits.

Touring London
Preparing his martial arts and drum routine for the talent auditions

VIETNAM – Trương Nam Thành.  He garnered a 4th runner-up finish in last year’s Manhunt International.  Many pageant fans and pundits have serious misgivings about his persona in this pageant, as he seems to be projecting a feminine vibe.  He might be angling for a slot in the Fashion & Style challenge (and he might get it) but it is a bit too Kurt Hummel, if you ask me.  At least he made inroads by making the Top 10 in the Talent challenge with a magic-and-dance act.  I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s simply being very generous by giving gifts to his fellow contestants, but it’s not the usual “manly” thing a guy does to break the ice.

Performing magic tricks for the talent competition
Touring London–check out the jacket! From L-R: Turkey, Greece, Brazil, Vietnam, Peru, Czech Republic
Some recipients of Vietnam’s generosity: Philippines, Puerto Rico, Croatia, Malta, and Spain
Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel getting his Vogue internship in Glee (image courtesy of Fox)

I’ll close this part of my review with a cheeky video of several contestants performing PSY’s global smash, “Gangnam Style”:

All images courtesy of Mr. World and its respective contestants unless otherwise indicated.

COMING UP:  THE GREEN TEAM

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