LONG BEACH — Pat Manuel is the first boxer in U.S. history to fight as a woman and later as a man.
The 32-year-old Long Beach resident has competed in boxing tournaments since he was a high school student, but ended his career fighting as a woman boxer during the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Manuel will have his professional debut later this year.
The Los Angeles Times follows Manuel during his three-year journey and transition, which started in September 2013. The following spring, Manuel had gender-confirmation surgery, which involved removing the breasts and shaping a male-contoured chest.
“I’m a masculine person but I don’t want to be a man necessarily,” Manuel told the Times. “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.”
On May 5, 2016, during a three-round bout, Manuel made history as the first U.S. boxer to who had transitioned from female to male, said USA Boxing spokesman Brian Taylor.
Manuel told the newspaper that his journey was never about being first as much as it was being comfortable and being himself.
“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,” Manuel told the Times. “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.”