CNBC is reporting that legacy boxing giant Everlast is making history by naming the world’s first professional male transgender boxer, Patricio Manuel, as the face of the brand’s “Be First” campaign.
Manuel is 34 and started his professional fighting career as a female in the early 2000s. By 2012 he had already won five national amateur titles and competed in that year’s Olympic Trials.
He suffered a shoulder injury, and it was during the rehab process that he came to grips with who he was as a person.
“Once I realized that I was trans, I knew that I needed to live my life being seen as a man,” Manuel told CNBC. "I was juggling back and forth for a while. For me, that was competing in the female division because that wasn't how I saw myself. And if I continued to push off my medical transition, I was doing more harm to myself."
This is a major shift in the sports landscape, and for a sport like boxing to be leading the charge is huge.
Former faces of the Everlast brand have been legends Jack Dempsey, Sugar Ray Robinson and Canelo Álvarez. A company spokesman said Manuel is part of its "new crop of trailblazers."
But the transition to being a man hasn’t all been easy. He lost his coach, his gym, two jobs and a handful of friends and acquaintances. Through the challenges he found his resolve.
"Regardless of what your goals are, whether you are trans, whether you are an athlete or not, our dreams have big costs to it, and it all requires risk for us to find that reward," he said.
"I haven't made it yet," he says. "I'm already looking at my next goal."
On becoming the face of Everlast’s “Be First” campaign, Manuel told CNN, "Everlast is such a fixture in the sport and to have such an iconic athletic company recognize me as I am -- as a professional boxer who is transgender -- is a dream come true."
(Photo: Image Source)
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