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Meet the first boxer in US history to fight as a woman...and then as a man

Patricio Manuel, first boxer to fight as a woman and man 

  • Manuel, 32, was born Patricia and his mother said she could tell from a young age he was different
  • His grandmother was the one who pushed him into boxing in high school, gifting him with a boxing club membership at Christmas to help him lose weight
  • It was after he had to miss Olympic qualifying trials to rehabilitate a shoulder injury that he decided to make a transition to male 
  • In September 2013, he began hormone treatments and, in spring 2014, underwent surgery to remove his breasts and shape a male-contoured chest
  • After the International Olympic Committee, in 2016, allowed female-to-male athletes to compete 'without restriction', USA Boxing approved Manuel's license
  • On the 2016 Cinco de Mayo card in South El Monte, Manuel made history as the first boxer in the US to fight first as a woman and then as a man
  • Manuel is set to make his professional debut later this year and says for the first time he's 'finally comfortable' in his own skin

Patricio Manuel, 32, says he spends most of his morning training sessions thinking about the journey that got him to where he is now.

And it's a long journey as Manuel, from Los Angeles, California, underwent gender-reassignment surgery, becoming the first boxer in US history to fight first as a woman and later as a man.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Manuel detailed the challenges he overcame to get to place where he says he is 'living his truth' for the first time. 

Patricio Manuel, 32, from Los Angeles, California made history as the first boxer in US history to fight first as a woman (pictured) and later as a man
Patricio Manuel, 32, from Los Angeles, California made history as the first boxer in US history to fight first as a woman and later as a man (pictured)

Patricio Manuel, 32, from Los Angeles, California made history as the first boxer in US history to fight first as a woman (left, in 2010) and later as a man (right, in 2016)

His mother said she knew from an early age that Manuel, born Patricia, was different from other girls her age. His grandmother was the one who pushed him into boxing in high school, gifting him with a boxing club membership at Christmas to help him lose weight (Pictured. Manuel, right, at unknown date, with professional boxer Lucia Rijker)

His mother said she knew from an early age that Manuel, born Patricia, was different from other girls her age. His grandmother was the one who pushed him into boxing in high school, gifting him with a boxing club membership at Christmas to help him lose weight (Pictured. Manuel, right, at unknown date, with professional boxer Lucia Rijker)

Manuel's mother, Loretta Butler, said she knew from an early age that her daughters, Patricia and Megan, were different from other girls.

'Every Christmas I would be buying toys at Toys 'R' Us and everybody would say, "You have two boys at home, huh?" Neither Megan nor Pat played with dolls,' she told the LA Times. 'They both wore boys' clothes.'

Butler says that when she looks back, she can't believe she missed the clues for both Manuel and his sister Megan, who is gay.

'There were early signs about probably what [Pat] was going through that I wasn't educated enough or wise enough to realize,' Butler said. 

'Men act like this and women act like this. And you have to fit into those two binaries. It's ridiculous because people don't fit into that.

'Pat has always been a male. It's just Pat was not assigned properly at birth.' 

Manuel (pictured, January 2017) spent years training with Roberto Luna, who trained three Olympians. Manuel was to be the fourth before missed two Olympic qualifying trials in 2012 to rehabilitate s shoulder injury in a fight that was to be his last as a female

Manuel (pictured, January 2017) spent years training with Roberto Luna, who trained three Olympians. Manuel was to be the fourth before missed two Olympic qualifying trials in 2012 to rehabilitate s shoulder injury in a fight that was to be his last as a female

On the trip home from that fight, Manuel (pictured, June 2016) made the decision to transition

On the trip home from that fight, Manuel (pictured, June 2016) made the decision to transition

Manuel said his grandmother was the one who pushed him into boxing in high school, gifting him with a boxing club membership at Christmas to help him lose weight.

Manuel spent years with Roberto Luna, who trained three Olympians. Manuel was to bet he fourth before he had to miss two Olympic qualifying trials in 2012 to rehabilitate s shoulder injury in a fight that was to be his last as a female.

On the trip home from that fight, he made the decision to transition.

'I said, "OK, if that's going to make you happy",' his mother, Butler, said. 'I told him I would support him 100 percent in whatever he chose to do. The bottom line is it doesn't matter to me. I just want him to be happy. It was a natural transition.'

Transgender boxer Patricio Manuel works out with heavy bag

Manuel started the process with hormone treatment in September 2013. In less than five months, he gained 15 pounds, grew facial hair and his voice dropped a couple of octaves.

The following spring, 26 months after his final fight as a woman, Manuel flew to Salt Lake City for surgery, which involved the removal of the breasts and the shaping of a male-contoured chest, a $6,000 surgery that his grandmother paid for.

'I'm a masculine person but I don't want to be a man necessarily,' Manuel said at the time of the surgery.

'I want to be, I guess, free of those binds. But because we live in a world where it's male or female, I have to shift over...I want to be able to compete with males.' 

Manuel started the process with hormone treatment in September 2013. In less than five months, he gained 15 pounds, grew facial hair and his voice dropped a couple of octaves (Pictured, left, as a woman in October 2011, and right, as a man in May 2016)

Manuel started the process with hormone treatment in September 2013. In less than five months, he gained 15 pounds, grew facial hair and his voice dropped a couple of octaves (Pictured, left, as a woman in October 2011, and right, as a man in May 2016)

The following spring, Manuel flew to Salt Lake City for surgery, which involved the removal of the breasts and the shaping of a male-contoured chest, a $6,000 surgery his grandmother paid for (pictured, left, as woman at unknown date and right, as a man in October 2016)

The following spring, Manuel flew to Salt Lake City for surgery, which involved the removal of the breasts and the shaping of a male-contoured chest, a $6,000 surgery his grandmother paid for (pictured, left, as woman at unknown date and right, as a man in October 2016)

The transition wasn't easy. He was denied jobs, kicked out of gyms and even cut ties with his former trainer, Luna.

He has since begun training with Vic Valenzuela, who trained a number of decorated fighters at the Duarte Boxing Club.

'Honestly, he's just one of the guys,' Valenzuela told the LA Times. He would even correct boxers when they referred to Pat as 'she' as he completed the transition.

When the International Olympic Committee changed its policies last year, ruling that female-to-male transgender athletes should be allowed to compete 'without restriction', USA Boxing approved Manuel's license.

When the International Olympic Committee changed its policies last year, ruling that female-to-male transgender athletes should be allowed to compete 'without restriction', USA Boxing approved Manuel's license (Pictured, Manuel receiving hormone treatment, May 2016)

When the International Olympic Committee changed its policies last year, ruling that female-to-male transgender athletes should be allowed to compete 'without restriction', USA Boxing approved Manuel's license (Pictured, Manuel receiving hormone treatment, May 2016)

Manuel says he has struggled with boxers occasionally canceling fights with him once they learned. But, on the 2016 Cinco de Mayo card, Manuel-then 30, made history by becoming the first transgender boxer to first fight as a woman and then as a man (Pictured, weighing in for the first time as a male boxer, February 2016)

Manuel says he has struggled with boxers occasionally canceling fights with him once they learned. But, on the 2016 Cinco de Mayo card, Manuel-then 30, made history by becoming the first transgender boxer to first fight as a woman and then as a man (Pictured, weighing in for the first time as a male boxer, February 2016)

Not everybody wanted to fight Manuel. Many boxers dropped out of fights after learning he was transgender.

'The toughest part of transitioning has been having pre-set matches inexplicably fall out,' Manuel said. 'Vic and I have gone to shows and watched opponents leave without explanation moments after a fight was made official.'

Finally, on the 2016 Cinco de Mayo card at the South El Monte Community Center, Manuel, then-30, made history as the first in US boxing history to feature a fighter who has transitioned from female to male. 

'It's hard to describe if you've never been so uncomfortable in your own skin. It's like I'm finally living my truth,' he said. 'For a long time I forced a narrative that I didn't really believe just because I didn't feel I had another way around it.' 

Later this year, Manuel will make his professional debut. But he says there is a lot to look forward to. He has moved in with his girlfriend, Amita Swahdin, and together they own a four-year-old put bull mix named Gingko (pictured with Manuel, May 2017)

Later this year, Manuel will make his professional debut. But he says there is a lot to look forward to. He has moved in with his girlfriend, Amita Swahdin, and together they own a four-year-old put bull mix named Gingko (pictured with Manuel, May 2017)

'Now I'm finally myself,' he said. 'I'm finally comfortable in my own skin, comfortable here, comfortable with myself' (Manuel pictured with Swahdin and Gingko, March 2017)

'Now I'm finally myself,' he said. 'I'm finally comfortable in my own skin, comfortable here, comfortable with myself' (Manuel pictured with Swahdin and Gingko, March 2017)

Manuel has only fought once in the last 14 months, but later this year will make his professional debut, at an age many fighters consider retirement. 

But there is plenty to look forward to, he says. Manuel has moved in with his girlfriend, Amita Swahdin, and together they own a four-year-old put bull mix named Gingko. He says he finally feels truly at home. 

'Now I'm finally myself,' he said. 'I'm finally comfortable in my own skin, comfortable here, comfortable with myself.' 

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Comment by Robert Mackie on October 25, 2017 at 12:54pm
Some woman boxers are much better then male boxers
Comment by Robert Mackie on October 25, 2017 at 12:53pm
Look at him he may not loose a fight in his weight class
Comment by Robert Mackie on October 25, 2017 at 12:51pm
Not all get a penis because they have not made one that works or is long enough
Comment by stephen myers on September 11, 2017 at 2:53pm

Where do they get the penis from? a dead body? a donkey? a horse? white mans culture is poison.

Comment by John on August 15, 2017 at 12:50pm

I hope no one punches him in the p****

Comment by james smith on August 10, 2017 at 8:32am
This is some sick ass s*** and everyone who supports these kind of actions will not be found guiltless SMDH
Comment by Natalie on August 10, 2017 at 12:34am
Let's be honest no real man is going to get into the ring with this person because despite all of the surgeries and hormones it will still be a man fighting a woman, and no one is going to sign up for that because if the opponent wins people will say it's because you fought a woman but if the opponent loses then his credibility amongst other boxers will be nothing....this person will probably have to wait until another transgender person comes along
Comment by Jerome S on August 9, 2017 at 11:18pm
Wonder why nobody said why the male boxers dropped out of fighting a transgender person, was it a common reason or multiple different varying reasons. . ?
Comment by Keeta Lee on August 8, 2017 at 1:59pm
I'm surprised to hear that other fighters would back out because Manuel has proven himself as a great fighter before the transition took place. I always say ignorance is blissed, humans will say and do hurtful destructive things when they can comprehend things out of their norm. I still ask what is normal in a diverse world. I know men born with breast which they developed during puberty, they didn't ask for them but yet they grew. Judge not people, because you don't understand what crosses people have to bare in this life. Somethings are not a right or wrong , there just are what they are.
Comment by Julia Pilgrim on August 6, 2017 at 11:38pm
Sick

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