Athlete Ally and Boxer Patricio Manuel Respond to World Boxing Council 

January 3, 2023 — Today, Athlete Ally and Boxer Patricio Manuel responded to the World Boxing Council (WBC)’s recently announced intent to create a separate category for transgender boxers. As an international boxing organization and sanctioning body, the WBC is primarily known for ranking fighters country-by-country and internationally, as well as its global influence in unifying the sport’s rules and regulations. Additional details about the category were provided by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman yesterday, when Sulaiman doubled down on banning transgender athletes from competing with cisgender athletes and forcing them into a separate category.  

“We are deeply troubled by the WBC’s decision to create a transgender-only category without consultation or involvement of impacted athletes,” said Anne Lieberman, Director of Policy and Programs at Athlete Ally. “Moreover, the development of this category goes against inclusive policies at the highest level of sport, like the 2021 International Olympic Committee Framework on Fairness, Inclusion and Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations, which centers the fact that transgender athletes have no inherent advantage in sport simply because of who they are. While the WBC may have made this policy with inclusion in mind, we welcome the opportunity to work with them to truly create inclusive, fair and equitable policies for transgender athletes – and all athletes.” 

“It is heartbreaking to me to have the WBC, a leader in my sport, argue that I don’t have a place in the ring as a man,” said Patricio Manuel, professional boxer and Athlete Ally Ambassador. “Given the WBC’s stated values of sportsmanship, diversity and respect (via their philanthropic arm WBC Cares), I trust this intended new policy was made with the best of intentions to be inclusive of transgender boxers. Yet, in reality, the WBC is inherently dehumanizing transgender people by implying that trans men aren’t men and trans women aren’t women. This rhetoric flies in the face of both existing policies at the highest level of governing bodies in the world of sports and my own lived experience.

As an amateur boxer in the women’s division, I had over 60 sanctioned fights, held five national titles, and competed on Team USA during the 2012 Olympic trials. Since I medically transitioned in 2013, I have had three sanctioned fights in the amateur men’s division and one sanctioned fight in the men’s professional division (which I won). 

While my next professional fight has been delayed, I have spent each week since my pro debut sparring numerous non-transgender male professional boxers. At a time of rising discrimination against transgender people in the United States, I am grateful to have received nothing but support and camaraderie from these boxers and their coaches, who have seen and respected me as the man I am. This respect reminds me daily: boxing has always been about seeing the fighter in everyone. Boxing values what is in your heart; it doesn’t discriminate based on who you inherently are.”

Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash