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

Boxer Patricio Manuel
Boxer Patricio Manuel (Photo: Everlast | YouTube)

Iconic boxing goods manufacturer Everlast features trans boxer Patricio Manuel in its new ‘Be First’ advertising campaign.

Manuel, 34, from California, is the first trans man professional boxer in the world.

Manuel competed against women up until 2012, including Olympic tryouts. A shoulder injury prompted him to take a break from the sport, and during this time he decided to begin his transition.

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He competed in his first bout against a man in 2016. He made his professional debut in December 2018, when he defeated Mexican super-featherweight Hugo Aguilar.

In the advert, Manuel says, “When I was a little kid, I always thought of myself as a boy. But you learn really early on that someone like me is immediately going to be told they’re a girl, so I learned to be quiet. I learned to stifle that part of me.

“But the thing is, anything you push down long enough, it will have a bad reaction, and that reaction for me was a complete disconnect from myself.

“I just mentally checked out so that I could continue coping through life. And it was boxing that brought me back into my body and it was boxing that allowed me to be proud of, actually, what I was physically able to do.

“But boxing also taught me to be really introspective and be like, ‘What do I really want? And how am I going to have to work for it?’ Because unfortunately, when you deviate from the norms that society has constructed, you have to fight for that identity. You have to really make it yourself.

Manuel says many people he knew in boxing were incredulous of his decision to transition when he had previously enjoyed great success in the women’s sport.

“They would come to me and say ‘You could have been one of the greatest female world champions … you would throw it all away to be yourself?’ and I tell them, that’s how bad I felt living that lie if it meant that much to me to risk the love of my life: Boxing.

“And then they knew it was something valid. No-one just throws away a possible chance at going to [the] Olympics or being a world champion. Living in your truth is gonna hurt but it’s worth it.

He goes on to talk about the importance of being yourself – offering words queer people everywhere will identify with.

“I want to live in a world where being yourself isn’t seen as this courageous act. I want all of us to be who we are and to be unafraid and not to have to deal with every obstacle just to be our true authentic self.

“So many of us are being forced into these restrictive boxes of identification but very few of us actually fit, and I want to see all of us be celebrated when we fight against those specific restrictive norms.

“I’m the first professional male boxer who is transgender. I may be the first but I’m not the last.”

Related: Father teaches trans son to shave in moving ad for Gillette

Manuel follows in the footsteps of Jack Dempsey and Sugar Ray Robinson in being the face of Everlast.

The sportswear label is not the first major brand to use a trans man for a marketing campaign. Earlier this year, razor and grooming brand Gilette used a trans man for a shaving commercial that went viral on social media.