By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)
Our sports editor, Dirk Smith caught up with Martin Stark who is busy organizing and promoting the first ever World Gay Boxing Championships set to take place in 2023. We wanted to learn more about the event and how Martin is working to make boxing into a global LGBTQ+ sports event.
Dirk Smith: Tell us more about the World Gay Boxing Championships; when/where they will be held, who’s invited, etc. Give us the rundown!
Martin Stark: The championships will be held in Sydney from 20-24 February 2023 coinciding with the city hosting Mardi Gras and World Pride. We are excited to welcome the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to our beautify city and country experiencing the warm Australian hospitality. Everyone is invited!
Dirk: What is the mission of the World Gay Boxing Championships?
Martin: We want to bring the boxing, LGBTQ+ and wider community together increasing LGBTQ+ inclusion and participation in the sport providing opportunities for people to compete in a safe and friendly environment. We will hold a safe and successful boxing championships aligned with (AIBA) rules, sanctioned by a boxing authority ensuring that no individual shall be excluded, shamed or intimidated from participating based on sexual orientation, sex or gender identity
Dirk: Why is it important for you based on your own experience?
Martin: I love the sport and have been welcomed by the Australian boxing family who are excited about the LGBTQ+ community participating in boxing. I want to give something back to the sport and disrupt homophobia, transphobia etc.
Dirk: On social media, you’ve been very proactive to connect to the boxing community and you’ve gotten a lot of positive responses from some organizations while others have declined your invite of support. How has this motivated you in the work you are doing?
Martin: We have received tremendous support from Boxing Australia and Boxing NSW who are helping WGBC organize and run the championships. The World Boxing Council, International Boxing Organization, World Boxing Organization and World Boxing Association have provided statements of support. It was important to establish relationships with the leadership and governing bodies of boxing. Knowing that our community is welcomed motivates me to pursue my dream of making boxing the most inclusive sport in the world.
Dirk: With more established LGBTQ+ Sports organizations such as the International Gay Rugby, International LGBT Aquatics that help organize LGBTQ+ sport for events like Gay Games, Sin City Classic and others. Do you hope to grow World Gay Boxing along a similar path to bring boxing at the forefront of LGBTQ+ sports?
Martin: I want boxing to be one of the most popular sports in the LGBTQ+ community with high levels of participation. I want boxing back in the Gay Games.
Dirk: What advice do you have for novice athletes who are interested in getting started in boxing?
Martin: Have fun and enjoy the experience going at your own pace and remembering to breathe. We are growing a fabulous and supportive global LGBTQ+ boxing community and would love you to join us.
Dirk: Is there anything you’d like to share with our readers about the World Gay Boxing Championships?
Martin: The WGBC started out with me sharing an idea using my mobile phone. We have grown through communicating and building relationships with people. Share your passion with others and pursue your dreams.
Dirk: Thank you Martin and we can’t wait for the World Gay Boxing Championships! You can find more information and sign up at https://www.worldgayboxingchampionships.org/
Photo Credit: Nigel Owns via Martin Stark