Patricio Emanuel, a transgender boxer who made history last year winning his premiere bout as the sport’s first trans male pro, is featured prominently in boxing brand Everlast’s “Be First” campaign. He filmed an emotional ad during which he opened up about his gender identity and career.
The 34-year-old landed the new opportunity after shattering gender barriers when he debuted as the first trans male pro boxer in the US and then pummeled Mexican super-featherweight Hugo Aguilar in a match last December 8.
Manuel, who told Gay City News following that match that he was “both happy and relieved to finally start this next chapter in my life,” is flourishing at this point in his career. But he has endured unique challenges over the years that have forced him to overcome much more adversity than the average boxer. Even during the time leading up to his big victory in December, he had a difficult time finding opponents willing to compete against him.
“A lot of people in boxing who I talked to, they would come to me and say, ‘You could have been one of the greatest female world champions, though you would throw it all away to be yourself,’” Manuel said during the Everlast ad, which lasts nearly four minutes and was shot in an interview format. “And I’d tell them, that’s how bad I felt living that lie. If it meant that much to me to risk the love of my life, boxing, then they knew that it was something that was valid. No one just throws away a possible chance at going to the Olympics or becoming a world champion because this is something they’re half-in about.”
Manuel, who was a Gay City News Impact Award honoree earlier this year, understands the importance of his presence in the ring, especially at a time when trans athletes have been under attack by conservatives and when the Trump administration has aggressively targeted trans rights. The boxing star had told Gay City News that he hopes his story can “serve as an example to all people, both cisgender and transgender, that we are not limited by the labels society assigns us.”
He stayed true to that message in the Everlast ad.
“I want to live in a world where being yourself isn’t seen as this courageous act,” he said. “I want all of us to be who we are and be unafraid and not to have to deal with every obstacle just to be our authentic self … So many of us are being forced into these restrictive boxes of identification, but very few of us actually fit, and I want to see all of us be celebrated when we fight against those specific restrictive norms.”
Everlast’s “Be First” campaign is a global effort “challenging consumers to carve their own path to success” and includes three other boxers, as well, who have unique stories of overcoming obstacles. Along with Manuel, the others are Jinji Martinez, who is the only person to defeat an opponent after receiving an amputation above the knee, and Mexican-American boxing brothers Karlos and José Balderas, whose grandfather worked tirelessly as an undocumented immigrant to provide for his family and send his grandchildren to the Olympics.