#LetPatFight: 1st Transgender Boxer

My name is Patricio Manuel, but most people call me Pat. In the boxing world, I'm known as “Cacahuate,” which means ‘peanut’ in Spanish (my teammates named me this years ago due to my small head LOL). I am the first female-to-male transgender boxer in U.S. history - meaning I was assigned female at birth, and now live my life as a man (and compete in the male boxing division).

I’ve been an amateur boxer for the past 15 years . When most of my peers were heading to college, I set my sights on the Olympics. I almost got there too - as a female boxer, I held five national titles and made it to the first-ever women’s Olympic boxing trials in 2012. Unfortunately, I suffered an injury to my shoulder during the trials and was medically disqualified from the tournament.

My Olympic dream was attached to me being a female athlete . It took losing the trials for me to really confront my gender identity and deal with the fact that I am transgender. Once I decided to medically and legally transition, I was certain I wanted to continue competing, but this time in the male division. The International Olympic Committee had already created a policy to allow trans athletes to compete, so USA Boxing used this as a guideline to create a policy for transgender boxers in the United States when I approached them about changing my gender division for competition.

To comply with USA Boxing regulations, I took two years off from boxing competitively to undergo hormone therapy . During this time, I also adjusted my training style to accommodate the physical changes I was experiencing (including increased muscle mass, speed and stamina).

I got back in the ring, as a man in the amateur division, on May 5, 2016 and won my comeback fight . I’ve been accelerating my training ever since. I train two to three times a day, six days a week. Training consists of strength training, running, boxing drills, and sparring pros at least three times a week. My sparring partners are professional and up-and-coming amateur male boxers in my weight class (the featherweight division, 126 pounds).

Now my coach and I are preparing for my pro debut. Golden Boy Promotions (Oscar De La Hoya’s company) paid for my medical exams, and I was granted my license by the California State Athletic Commission on September 4, 2018 - making me the first transgender professional boxer in US history.

There’s a big promoter interested in putting me on a card (giving me a slot at a boxing event, just like a slot on a bill at a music event) before the end of the year. But there’s a lot of expenses associated with this next big move. As of now, I’ve only had one sponsor as a male boxer: the Long Beach LGBT Center. And like most boxers, I fully fund my own training, which can run as high as $2,500 per month when I need things like physical therapy and myofascial release to aid in recovery from the rigor of training.

It’s imperative that I spend as much of my time as possible focused on training (and not working a 9-to-5 job on top of that schedule). While this is true for all pro boxers, as the first transgender boxer, I have a lot of naysayers doubting whether I can hold my own against cisgender men - or whether I belong in the ring at all. I definitely have a spotlight on me, and I want to prove that transgender athletes have the right and the ability to compete at an elite level, as much as anyone else.

Because of this focus, I have chosen to forego a full-time job and launch my own business
(https://darkhorsedm.com/) as a digital marketing entrepreneur. Running my own business gives me the flexibility to set my own hours - allowing me to get to the gym as much as possible. But while I can cover basic expenses this way (rent, car payment, food, etc.), I simply don’t have enough to cover the expense of turning pro.

Anyone who knows me knows I can be a very proud person, to the point that I have a hard time asking for support when I need it. But I want to believe that as much as I have naysayers, I have more supporters out there who want to see me fight. It would mean a lot to me to have you, my community, as my collective sponsor, so I can prove to you that I am truly a People’s Champ.

If you could support my GoFundMe by making a donation and then sharing it with your network on email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I would greatly appreciate it. I know that money can be tight, so please know that even $5 helps me get closer to my goal!

Please use #LetPatFight to help raise awareness about my journey. And please tune in to my pro debut - I’ll let you know as soon as we get the date locked down.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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Patricio Pat Manuel 
Wellington Heights, CA

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