Victor Marrufo has been around the beauty pageant industry for several yearsnow he's the one wearing the sash.
Marrufo was the director of both the Miss Hispano U.S.A. and the Miss Hispano America Illinois Organization pageants. This summer, he was selected as Mr. Illinois to participate in the inaugural Mr. U.S. Universal Competition next June in Fort Collins, Colo.
"I feel I have the experience to compete," said Marrufo, nominated as Mr. Illinois by event director Victoria Hughes, who was Miss New Mexico Teen USA 1996.
"This competition means a lot to me; it has already really changed my personal life, improved my focus and dedication."
Meaning, Marrufo is rarely seen anymore around the Boystown nightlife. Instead, he's spending hours every week in the gym, focusing on his physical fitness, and adhering to a strict, high-protein diet. He also has been attending charity events for multiple causes, fashion events and other appearances that he is invited to.
The 2013 event is open to gay and straight participants, Marrufo said.
"Although I am very busy these days, I still have time to be a very giving person. I think my gift in life is to make people very happy. That is, for instance, one of the reasons I do makeupto make women feel happy, to help their self-esteem," Marrufo said.
He also volunteers at facilities that do HIV/AIDS testing and promote safe sex. Plus, in October, Marrufo will spend several days homeless in Chicago for a documentary about the plight of the homeless.
In November and December, Marrufo will be donating food to the needy in his native town of Cicero.
"Growing up, we ate food from the [local] food pantry, so, through a corporate sponsor, I am able to give [away] turkeys and gifts for the kids. I am very happy, very proud to be able to do that," he said.
"A year ago, I was a Victor who was lost. I didn't know what I wanted; I was out of shape, with low self-esteem. Now, I know it's time to wake up and improve myself, my conditions, and my lifeand that's exactly what I'm doing."
So, how will you do in the pageant?
"I'm confident. I think I can win it. I'm excited, and happy to participate," Marrufo said.
Job title: Make-up artist
Hobbies: Boxing, weight training, fashion and style
Relationship status: Single
Schooling: Graduated from Morton East High School in 2007; now a student at Harold Washington College, studying business development
Little-known fact: Has received A's and B's in school ever since first grade