Sport

Olympic boxer Irma Testa comes out as queer

Lily Wakefield December 5, 2021
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Bronze medallist Italy's Irma Testa poses on the podium with her medal

Bronze medallist Italy's Irma Testa poses on the podium with her medal. (AFP via Getty/ Pool/ LUIS ROBAYO)

Boxer Irma Testa, who took home a bronze medal for Italy at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has come out as queer.

Testa, 23, won a bronze medal in the women’s featherweight category at this year’s summer Olympics, after previously competing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The boxer, who also won gold at the 2019 European Championships, explained in an interview with Vanity Fair Italia that her Olympic success gave her the confidence to publicly come out.

She said: “The people who are close to me have known for years but I think it is right to tell everyone now.

“Speaking of sexual orientation in the world of sport has a special value, because champions are expected to be perfect. And for many homosexuality is still an imperfection.

“Many athletes stay silent and hide away for fear of damaging their image. For me, too, it was like that up to a few months ago.”

But Testa said that her Tokyo medal had become her “shield”, and added: “Now that Irma the athlete is secure, Irma the woman can be sincere.”

She said that being open about her sexuality now was “fundamental” because she wanted to stand up for queer people who are not as “protected and safe” as she is.

Caroline Veyre of Canada fights Irma Testa
Caroline Veyre, in red, of Canada fights Irma Testa of Italy during the Women’s Feather quarter final on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (Getty/ Frank Franklin)

Testa continued: “There are people who suffer from discrimination, who are bullied, who are unable to build a life for themselves because they do not know how to relate to a society that is hostile to them.

“Every human being should be protected and safe. Or at least protected. Who can protect you if not the state, its institutions, its laws?

“There are still too many people discriminated against and this is not good. I can’t do much, but I can, by telling the truth about myself, say that nothing is wrong [with being LGBT+].”

Testa said she did not want to assign a label to her sexual orientation, but added that she feels “relieved” to have publicly come out.

“It’s like I have always wanted to say to people who told me about their stories so similar to mine: ‘I understand you perfectly, I too am like you.'”

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