Pat Manuel made history last night when he became the first transgender man to fight at a professional level in US boxing – and also won the fight.
Speaking after his victory, Manuel said: “It’s a funny thing when just living your truth becomes historic.”
“I think if people knew what it took to get to this moment. It’s been almost two years since I’ve been in a ring,” he added.
“I just have to say my opponent, hats off to him. He came to fight. He was fighting me the whole time. He fought me as a man, and I have so much respect for him.”
When Manuel heard boos from the audience, he said: “I hear some fans aren’t happy. It’s OK, I’ll be back. I’ll make them happy.”
Pat Manuel: Transgender boxer
Last night’s victory was a long road for Manuel. In 2012, before his transition, he competed in the US Olympic Trials, but was forced to pull out after sustaining a shoulder injury.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Manuel had put off transitioning as he didn’t know what his future as a boxer would look like if he did.
However, after losing the Olympic Trials, Manuel decided to tell his mother that he wanted to transition. She told the Los Angeles Times that she was not surprised, but just relieved.
That conversation put Manuel on the road to living his life how he wanted to live it.
After transitioning, Manuel decided he wanted to get back into boxing, but there were some roadblocks in the way.
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The California State boxing commission was hesitant to allow him to fight, as it had never seen a case like his before.
However, when the Olympic Committee ruled ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016 that female-to-male athletes could compete, he had his amateur licence approved.
He then fought his first fight as a man in 2016, which he won after three rounds. He lost a second fight later in 2016.
When Manuel stepped into the boxing ring last night, it was his first fight in two years due to injuries and difficulty in finding opponents.
‘I’m gonna continue fighting’
Speaking in a YouTube 60-second documentary last year, Manuel said that boxing as a man and as a woman is “different.”
“I don’t feel that it’s easier boxing as a woman than boxing as a man. My body’s changed and I also was fighting at such an elite level against female athletes that it wasn’t easy. I was on track to go into the first Olympics’ women’s boxing trials.
“I originally started boxing as a female athlete as a way to cope with the gender dysphoria I was feeling. It was actually boxing that kept me from transitioning because I didn’t know if I would be able to continue competing if I decided to medically transition.
“Once I lost the Olympic boxing trials and didn’t have boxing as a distraction, it made me really examine what I wanted as a person, not just as an athlete.”
He continued: “My decision to medically transition has probably been the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s obvious I was meant to transition. Ultimately this is for me. I’m gonna be who I am and I’m gonna continue fighting.”