fighting for good

Meet Timo Cavelius, Germany’s first openly gay Judo champion and a total dreamboat

Timo Cavelius stands in a blue judogi.
Photo via Getty Images

26-year-old judoka Timo Cavelius has fought plenty of opponents on his time, including heteronormativity in athletics. With his recent German National Championship win, Cavelius has become the first openly gay judo champion in his home country.

The young fighter has had a quick rise to his current height, already having fought in dozens of competitions like grand slams, grands prix, and continental cups. After years taking to the mats, he’s come out on top.

The athlete publicly came out back in 2020, but said he’s been open with friends and family since he was a teen with little to no incident.

“A well-known German tabloid actually wanted to do a big story about my sexuality,” he’d said in a 2020 interview, “but because I can’t tell a sad or shocking story about my coming out, they dropped the topic.”

However, coming out to the judo world didn’t prove as easy. While there are a good handful of gay professional fighters (Anthony Bowens in wrestling, Jack Woolley in taekwondo, Orlando Cruz in boxing, etc.) the traditional masculinity and heteronormative spirit still often carries through.

“In sport, the topic was taboo for me for a long time,” Cavelius explained. “Not only because I had repeatedly read horror stories in the media about athletes coming out. In my team we were all pubescent boys who still wanted to prove their masculinity. Judo is also a very physical sport, after all you throw each other around and you’re incredibly close in ground fighting. I was afraid that the others would no longer take me seriously.”

Much to everyone’s relief, the reception was warm.

“Apart from the classic ‘How are you doing?’ questions, they were all really cool with it,” he assured.

“I think a lot of people scare themselves about coming out. The moment I took my destiny into my own hands, nothing could happen to me. My credo is very clear: There is no longer any room for homophobia today, not even in professional sport.”

Now, with a national championship under his belt and the 2024 Olympics in his sights, this fighter is definitely bringing progress to the mat.

He’s also kept Instagram updated on his own personal progress: