Pat Manual who is a transgender male boxer will be officially making his professional debut this weekend, December 8th, at the Golden Boy Boxing Event in Palm Springs. Having started his career as a woman, Pat Manual made history in becoming one of the first openly visible transgender male boxers in the history of the sport. He will be the first transgender male to compete as a professional boxer.

Pat Manuel is the first boxer to fight as both a woman and then a man. He has always been known as a fierce, fast and resilient fighter who is always looking for the next challenge. Manuel had been struggling with gender dysmorphia in his teenage years, as he started his boxing career.

“I was told I was a girl growing up my entire life, but really in my head, I was a boy,” Manuel said. “…But puberty and society was like no, this is your lot, this is who you are and I had no idea that there were any other options.”

He went on to establish himself as a strong athlete in female boxing, going so far as the 2012 Olympic Trials when he became sidelined due to injury.

“It was emotionally painful. I had worked so hard to get to the Olympics and just to have it go out like that, it was pretty heart-crushing.”

The injury had led Manuel into a deep depression, as he struggled with depression and other mental health concerns. However, it was the turning point that Manuel needed in his life for him to really come to his own.

“I realized that I had been lying to myself for so long and lying to other people for saying I was a woman and I decided at that moment that I didn’t want to live that lie anymore. I wanted to live myself as I really, truly felt and I wanted to live as a man.”

It wasn’t an easy process for Manuel, but after four years away from the sport. Manuel had returned to amateur boxing in 2016 when USA Boxing had granted a license for Manuel to compete again, but this time in the male division. He was even featured as part of the series “Identify” on the Olympic Channel, which profiled five transgender athletes and their journeys in pursuing sport.

With his return to the sport and living his authentic self, Manuel said he’s never been happier.

Manuel announced his professional debut in a post on Instagram, thanking his fans for support and advocating for increase participation of transgender athletes in sport. In making his professional debut in boxing, Pat Manuel is certainly walking the walk and paving the path for increased transgender visibility and participation throughout sports.

By Dirk Smith