In Maldives and Australia the famous ‘S’ stands for Shalabi, representing hope, and a story of super fandom!
A Superfan of Superman for as long as he can remember, 25-year-old Iby Shalabi of the Maldives has been crowned as Australia’s biggest fan of the infamous red and blue comic book superhero.
The journey to being named such a significant fan of the man of steel began when world-renowned wax museum Madame Tussaud’s called a hunt for Australia’s biggest Superman and Batman fan two months ago.
The competition came in line with the opening of their new collection Justice League Wax Figures: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and The Flash. It was announced that the winner of the competition would be invited to the VIP launch of the collection and be the first in Australia to experience the exhibit.
Iby’s love for Superman ignited him to participate in the competition and, as per the rules, the 25-year-old student residing in Australia sent in his compiled video as a declaration of love for the Krypton hailing hero.
“I was exposed to Superman early on as a child. Seeing the symbol and his costume had me in awe and made me curious; and when I found out he could fly, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. So I ended up playing dress up with the costume and cape, and pretended to be Superman many times.” said Iby, revealing the origin of his love for Superman.
However, it was not until he grew older that he started to appreciate Superman more as a character.
“My mom came back home from a trip one day and bought me the entire first season of Smallville. I was instantly hooked onto the show and ended up watching it for 10 years throughout all 10 seasons, following his entire journey from being adopted on Earth as Clark Kent after leaving Krypton as Kal-El, to donning the cape and costume and becoming Superman,” Iby narrated.
Though no doubt remains about his love for Superman, it came as quite a surprise to Iby when he won the competition.
Channel 7 had expressed interest in the winner of the competition and Iby was offered a live TV interview on Channel 7’s 'The Morning Show', where he shared more details about his admiration for the superhero and his journey to becoming a super-fan.
“In many ways, growing up watching the show shaped me into the person I am today,” said Iby, thanking his mother for introducing him to Smallville, the journey of Superman, and allowing him to find a role model in addition to her.
After the Channel 7 interview, Iby was flown to see Madame Tussauds' Justice League Exhibition, a first of it's kind interactive wax exhibition in Australia. Iby was taken back to times of dressing up and pretending to be the superhero, when his dreams were near achieved after 'lifting a helicopter' with Henry Cavill’s Superman.
“It’s the best set of Wax Figures because it's interactive for the first time, and [Superman's] wax figure moves with you during the helicopter lift,” explained Iby.
Australia’s biggest Superman fan had a super time during both the exhibition and the VIP launch party.
With a lot of superhero talk, new friends, photographs and videos with superheroes, Iby’s journey went nothing but up, up and away!