By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)

After making his historic debut in December 2018, trans boxer Pat Manuel went up against fellow super featherweight, Hien Hyunh in the ring The Pyramid at Long Beach State University. There was some uncertainty from both fans and Manuel himself as to what to expect in his first fight in four years, but within 90 seconds of the set-up, all doubt was lost.

Manuel came in with a sweeping right hook to Hyunh’s jaw, throwing the fighter back into the canvas and things only got better for Manuel from there. Four rounds later, Manuel was declared the winner, marking his second win as a professional boxer.

“There was some rust coming in, but I started getting my rhythm,” Manuel said after the win. “I’m just happy to be in this ring. This where I am supposed to be.”

Despite the four year absence, Manuel wasn’t just slouching, but was focused on training his conditioning and technical skill for the boxing. Despite Hyunh being quicker, Manuel held a height, weight and reach advantage as well as a jab that has been notable improved upon since his first match four years ago, allowing him to set up a solid counter attack that he used against Hyunh’s speed and ability to rally. In an interview with Outsports last November, Manuel offered insight into the last four years.

“I’m actually physically at the best I’ve been in years,” Manuel said. “In the last fight, I had injuries I had to push through so that I was able to compete. In 2019, I had a fight that was supposed to happen, and I had a pretty gnarly hip injury that knocked me out. We were getting ready to go back in 2020, and then the world stopped because of COVID.”

Coming into the win, the local crowd cheered for Manuel for whom Long Beach holds a special place in his heart, being where he began his transition and restarted his boxing career as a coach for the Long Beach LGBTQ+ center in 2014.

“I am not a self-made man,” he said to the crowd after the win. “I am the sum of everyone, not only my supporters and my friend but also my family and my team. I am so loved and supported that I feel unbeatable.”

Photo Credit: Aswadhin via Wikimedia Commons