On Saturday, December 8, Patricio Manuel made history as the first transgender boxer to compete and win a fight in the United States. He fought Hugo Aguilar in Indio, California, and managed to snag the historic victory by unanimous decision at the end of the bout. As he was interviewed in the center of the ring following the fight, however, fans from around the stadium loudly booed the athlete. Instead of letting them get to him, Manuel had a message.
Hearing the boos, Manuel told his interviewer:
"I hear some fans aren't happy. It's okay, I'll be back… I'll make you happy then."
He went on:
"I've got some naysayers out there that I need to prove that I deserve to be here. I'm not in here just for one show in one fight. This is something I love. I'm not done with this sport and I will be back."
Manuel then spoke of Aguilar, who is currently 0-6:
"My opponent… hats off to him. He came here to fight, he fought me like a man, and I have so much respect for him."
The Palm Springs Desert Sun reports that Manuel was part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials when he was a woman, though a shoulder injury "forced him to withdraw."
Two years later, in 2014, Manuel began hormone therapy to transition into a man. He received gender-reassignment surgery in 2015, but didn't want to give up boxing, the sport that had shaped so much of his life.
Despite the booing fans surrounding him, Manuel epitomized class during his interview:
"Everyone who has been along for this journey over the past six years, really. Thank you so much, I couldn't be here without you. I really needed that support to help push me to this point."
The boxer recognized the many people who had helped him get to this point:
"There's a lot of people behind my corner, my coaches, my beautiful partner, my family and friends and fans. There are so many people who wanted me to be here and I'm so glad I was able to perform for them."
Though the ring-side fans may not have been especially receptive to Manuel, fans on Twitter were all for him.
Manuel's victory is a win not just for himself, but a historic one for the boxing community.
Congratulations on your win, Mr. Manuel, hopefully there are many more to come!