Manuel was raised by a single mother in Santa Monica, California, and was five times the women’s national amateur boxing champion, and also competed in the 2012 Women’s US Olympic Trials until forced to withdraw with a shoulder injury.
“I’ve never really felt any sort of relation to being a girl or a woman or really being female. I would identify myself as a boy or a man in my head even if I didn’t say it out loud to other people.”
He began hormone therapy in 2013, and had top surgery in Salt Lake City in 2014.
“I don’t really think of it as difficult because it’s been so fun. People may think it’s been difficult but it’s also given me these amazing experiences. I feel like I’m more in control of self-identifying as a man the way I want because I’m able to actually consciously construct it as opposed to it having been enforced on me since birth.”
He had to leave his longtime gym and trainer of nine years because the gym was church affiliated and insisted that he keep his story quiet – which he could not do. However he became a coach at a LGBTQ center in Long Beach.
He lost a year recovering after surgery, and then waited three more months before being officially declared eligible to box as a man. USA Boxing now make no mention that he once fought as a woman, but his story is no secret given his championship wins. And because his name is only one letter different from his dead name.
His first fight in the amateur male division was in May 2016 – which he won.
In September 2018 the California State Athletic Commission gave him a professional boxing license – making him the first trans man in the world to be so approved. He won his first bout as a pro boxer in December 2018. A fight was arranged in 2019, but Manuel had to withdraw because of a hip injury. And then there was COVID. But there was also uneasiness that a trans man was not only fighting but winning against a cis man. Manuel’s coach, Victor Valenzuela, commented:
“a lot of the guys and coaches didn’t want to fight him. They think they have nothing to gain by it: Win, and you beat somebody that was a female. Lose, you got beat by somebody that was a woman.”
In December 2023 the World Boxing Council floated the idea of a separate league for trans boxers.
“The WBC completely rejects any boxing activity between people born male against born female, regardless of their current sexuality; so the creation of a Committee to create a competition manual was approved with the possibility of having a transgender league welcoming those who wish to participate in our sport.”
Unsurprisingly, Manuel demurred.
“It is heartbreaking to me to have the WBC, a leader in my sport, argue that I don't have a place in the ring as a man.
Given the WBC’s stated values of sportsmanship, diversity and respect (via their philanthropic arm WBC Cares), I trust this intended new policy was made with the best of intentions to be inclusive of transgender boxers.
Yet, in reality, the WBC is inherently dehumanizing transgender people by implying that trans men aren’t men and trans women aren’t women.
This rhetoric flies in the face of both existing policies at the highest level of governing bodies in the world of sports and my own lived experience.”
A trans league is almost impossible because of lack of numbers alone. The WBC’s position rests on a report that has never been shared publicly, and that remains contested among neurologists and medical experts.
- Jim Buzinski. “ 'Proud, butch lesbian' aims to make U.S. Olympic women's boxing team ”. Outsports, Feb 14, 2012. Online.
- Kylie Krabbe. “Pat Manuel Poised to Blaze Trail as Transgender Amateur, then Pro”. The Ring, Dec 3, 2015. Online.
- Karleigh Webb. “Trans boxer Patricio Manuel wins first match in four years, improves to 2-0”. Outsports, Mar 22, 2023. Online.
- Patrick Djordjevic. “Transgender male boxer Patricio Manuel picks up a THIRD straight victory to continue his unbeaten record... 11 years after competing in the women's U.S. Olympic trials”. Daily Mail, 23 June 2023. Online.
- Ben Wyatt. “Trans Boxers Are Stepping Into the Ring. Will the Sport Let Them Stay?”. Rolling Stone, Sep 23, 2023. Online.