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Trailblazing boxer Patricio Manuel is a total knockout–and an inspiration!

Patricio Manuel via Everlast

Boxing trailblazer Patricio Manuel’s story proves trans folks can be lovers, fighters, and total knockouts–sometimes all at once.

In 2018, Manuel became the first trans boxer to be in a professional fight in U.S. history. He won the fight in a four-round unanimous victory. This was after he already won a five-time national amateur boxing champion prior to his transition.

The gloves from his landmark match are being included in the next installment of the Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects art exhibit, scheduled for fall 2023. In a new interview with OutSports, the fighter talks about the history behind the gloves and his journey to the ring.

Manuel came into the gloves in 2014, with the help of an LGBTQ center where he was teaching youth boxing.

“At the time I was pretty broke, and (the center) helped me get those gloves,” he says.

He was already going through his transition at the time, and he cites his fighting as a source of gender euphoria, affirmation, and resilience.

“I always appreciated the ‘drag out’ fights when people would have wars with each other, and a particular type of toughness,” he explains.

“That would become such a cornerstone, whether I had realized it or not. Because of that cornerstone and my own pride of being that tough fighter when I would get in the ring, it allowed me to be that tough as I was growing and forming who I was going to be as a man.”

Related: This thirst-worthy trans boxer knows a thing or two about fighting for representation in the ring

Manuel states his love for boxing goes past the physical sense of accomplishment, and into a more lofty sense.

“I love the honesty of this sport,” he says. “Two people with gloves, same weight category, settling out who will be better. In boxing, you settle it and then you hug each other afterward. I wish more of the world was like that.”

This was true of his legendary fight against Hugo Aguilar — at least, inside the ring. The audience was apparently not as sportsmanlike as the two, with Manuel’s decisive victory being met with a mixture of cheers and boos.

“I hear some fans aren’t happy,” he addressed the crowd. “It’s okay, I’ll be back. I’ll make you happy then.”

Related: WATCH: Trans pro-boxer features in powerful new sportswear advert

Manuel hasn’t returned to the professional fighting sphere since, due to a combination of injuries and the COVID pandemic. However, now in prime fighting shape, he plans to return to the ring next year and do his gloves justice once again.

“I don’t think there is anything else that sums up my story more than those gloves,” he said. “You can see the journey they’ve had. You can see their scars, but at the end of the day they still do what they are supposed to do. They are exactly what they are in spite of everything they went through.”

While you’re here, check out Manuel’s 2019 advert with Everlast…

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