Earlier this week, Pat Manuel announced he was making his professional boxing debut at the Golden Boy Boxing Tournament. Making him the first ever professional boxer who is also transgender. In his fight against opponent Hugo Aguilar, Pat won in a unanimous decision. In addition to making history, Manuel is also making his mark as a professional boxer, challenging the stigmas and assumptions about trans people, specifically trans men in sport.

“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,” Manuel said after the fight. “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.”

Boxing is one of the most machismo sports out there, and Manuel’s return to the ring as a man hasn’t always been easy. Even after the fight and his historic win, not everybody appreciated Manuel’s accomplishment. However, that’s not going to keep Pat from moving forward.

“I hear some fans aren’t happy,” Manuel added when hearing boos from the crowd. “It’s OK, I’ll be back. I’ll make them happy then.”

After Pat had begun his transition, he decided to return to the sport but faced new challenges. The California Boxing Commission had never handled a situation like Pat’s before and uncertain in how to proceed; wouldn’t allow him to fight. However, in 2015 the International Olympic Committee released its updated guidelines regarding the eligibility of transgender people to participate in the Olympics which opened the door for trans people to take part. USA Boxing in accordance with this new policy, granted Pat a license to fight. Before his historic fight at the Golden Boy Boxing Tournament, Pat had only fought twice since transition, one that he won and the other he lost. Unfortunately, Pat had a difficult time finding opponents and contending with injuries which stalled his career.

Winning his first fight as a professional boxer, it’s safe to say, Pat Manuel’s career is on the move again.

“I just need to say to everyone that’s been along with this journey for like six years really, thank you so much,” Manuel said. “I couldn’t be here without you. I really needed that support to help push me to this point … There’s so many people that just wanted me to be here, and I’m so happy that I could perform for them. I’m not in here just for one show, for one fight. This is something I love. I’m not done with this sport. I’ll be back.”

Help support Pat Manuel’s career and learn more about his story here.

By Dirk Smith