History was made on Saturday night when Patricio Manuel won his professional debut boxing match against Mexican super featherweight Hugo Aguilar.
Why was it historical? Manuel is the first transgender boxer to compete in the United States professionally.
While this was Manuel’s first post-transition professional fight, he’s far from new to the world of boxing. He boxed in the female Olympic trials back in 2012, but ultimately quit due to a shoulder injury.
“I originally started boxing as a female athlete as a way to cope with the gender dysphoria I was feeling,” Manuel said in a short YouTube documentary about his journey last year. “It was actually boxing that kept me from transitioning because I didn’t know if I would be able to continue competing if I decided to medically transition.”
Manuel shared that after he lost the Olympic boxing trials, he had to confront the reality he’d been pushing aside, and came to the decision that it was time for him to officially transition.
The road back to professional competition took some time, as Manuel was rejected by his former coach and training facility as well as several potential opponents.
But the journey was obviously worth it.
Not only was Manuel ultimately able to acquire his professional fighting license, and find a respectful opponent in Aguilar, but his victory is a big moment in visibility for trans athletes.
“I wouldn’t trade any of it,” he said. “It was worth everything I went through to get to this point. I’m a professional boxer now.”