World's best 'Elvis' is from Cyprus
His hip-swaying moves and throaty renditions of Elvis hits have earned Cypriot Mario Kombou the title of "World's Best Elvis Impersonator," and next week he is to grace the stage before adoring fans on his native island, according to AFP.
The Elvis tribute singer has been in big demand since he was crowned "The King" in Memphis, Tennessee in the "Images of the King Contest" on August 16, when he was catapulted to international fame.
People come from all corners of the globe to compete in what is regarded as the world's biggest and most prestigious competition, taking place on the anniversary of Elvis' death and held annually in Elvis' hometown.
"I've achieved a life-long ambition to be up there among the best Elvis tribute singers. Its a great honour," Kombou has AFP.
In a Cyprus magazine poll, Kombou was rated among the world's best-known Cypriots in a list that also included pop star George Michael.
The British-born Cypriot from London's Muswell Hill has come a long way from being a one-time hairdresser and practicing his Elvis moves in front of a mirror.
Kombou won the judges' hearts when he appeared in a final round of the contest, perfectly coiffed and decked out in replica jewel-studded Elvis costume, wooing the crowd with his performances of "Burning Love" and "Just Pretend."
"I was quietly confident as I had come second before. Winners cant re-compete but they do enter the Winners' Hall of Fame, which is an honour for me."
Kombou, a trained actor, recently finished a stint in the West End playing the lead role in the hit musical "Jailhouse Rock," which played to packed audiences at London's Piccadilly Theatre and received rave reviews.
He won critical acclaim for his role as Vince Everett, the character played by Elvis Presley in the original 1957 screen version, during a 14-month run that brought Kombou overnight fame and a promising career ahead of him.
He said he has auditioned for a role as archetypal crooner Dean Martin in another West End hit musical, "The Rat Pack" and is waiting for a response.
The veteran of the Elvis tribute circuit has released his own CDs of Elvis favourites and has the backing of Elvis's cousin Donna Presley who is a keen fan.
Due to popular demand, Kombou will touch down in Cyprus next week for a series of one-off concerts.