Patricio Manuel’s story is one of breaking boundaries and defying odds.
The first-ever transgender male pro boxer in the U.S., Manuel, 33, won his premiere professional fight against Mexico’s Hugo Aguilar on Saturday. After 12 minutes in the ring at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, judges unanimously decided Manuel the victor with a final score of 39-37.
“I wouldn’t trade any of it. It was worth everything I went through to get to this point,” Manuel told the Los Angeles Times after bagging his first win. “I’m a professional boxer now … The best part of tonight — once I got to the arena and starting getting ready, get the adrenaline rushing, step through those ropes, [greet] my opponent — I loved it all.”
Manuel’s journey to competing professionally began six years ago, according to The Times, after the boxer fought in the 2012 Olympic trials for the woman’s team.
Months later, he began his transition, which saw him face a number of bureaucratic limitations. Licensing and finding a coach and training facility willing to work with him all proved extremely challenging.
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The athlete was eventually able to get licensed thanks to Oscar De La Hoya’s company Golden Boy Promotions, but even then, few men were willing to fight him. Taking on Aguilar was his first fight in two years and only his third official one since the trials.
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And truth be told, Aguilar, who was fighting in the U.S. for the first time, said he didn’t know about Manuel’s journey until a few days before. But, he assured The Times, it didn’t matter to him.
“For me it’s very respectable,” he told the paper in Spanish. “It doesn’t change anything for me. In the ring he wants to win, and I want to win, too.”
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Now, Manual hopes to continue his winning streak but not until the holidays are over.
“I’m going to take some time off … and then fight at the end of February. That’s the goal,” he said. “I definitely want to keep going. It’s been so long since I fought … The rust has been shaken off. Now it’s time to keep moving.”
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