He survived a freak fire that ignited his impresively full beard — yet Steve “Leon” Lutz still went on to win the gold at last week’s Beard and Moustache Championship.
And Lutz’s was not the only epic performance on display at Public Assembly club, which attracted 86 hirsute heroes and a crowd of hundreds for the annual battle for facial hair supremacy.
Kevin Byrne (right) also overcame hurdles of his own to win best patchy beard.
The 22-year-old withstood months of criticism as he prepared for the competition in this most-maligned of categories — but he wouldn’t “clean up” his uneven fuzz.
“People were always making fun of my patchy beard and saying it was dirt on my face,” he said. “But it was worth it in the end — I got the gold.”
But it was Lutz’s story that earned the admiration of those with maned mandibles — and the people who love them.
After the allegedly accidental fire, Lutz (left) shaved his chin for the first time in 15 months and styled the remaining scruff into a “Gangs of New York”-inspired style with thick mutton chops and a waxed moustache.
He won best sideburns — an amazing comeback.
“I’m just glad it didn’t get rid of my hair entirely,” said Lutz, 34.
Other winners saw a deeper meaning in the contest.
“Mustaches are catching on, maybe in a tongue and cheek kind of way,” said Benjamin Davidson (center) who won for his handlebar-styled ’stache that measures nine inches from tip to tip.
“I’m not sure if people are doing it as a joke or taking it seriously,” he said.
Other winners included Nate Stahura (“Recession Beard”), Steve “Stoobie” Cline (goatee), Burke Kenny (freestyle), Jack Passion (best full natural — well, of course!), and Jessica Karcz (“Ladies Artificial”).