For a time boxing has always seemed at odds with the LGBTQ+ community, a combat sport that boasts masculinity and reflects the often violent attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals. But this is thankfully becoming a vision of the past as boxing continues to progress and become an inclusive sport regardless of who you are or who you love. June is pride month after all, so it seems like a good time to highlight and learn all about some of the major faces of the LGBTQ+ boxing community.
Heroes of Progress: Women boxers
In celebration of LGBTQ+ boxing, let’s first take a look at some of the heroes who are paving the way for greater LGBTQ+ representation within boxing. A name no one should be surprised to see here is Nicola Adams. Nicola Adams OBE is the first ever woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing after a brilliant performance in London 2012. She went on to win her first World Championship gold in 2016. Then in Rio later that year she won gold yet again, defending her flyweight title and making her one of the greatest female boxers in history. Adams is also openly bisexual and was named as the most influential LGBTQ+ person by The Independent in 2012. She is heavily invested in making boxing much more accessible to women through her work with charities like Fight for Peace and Gear 4 Girls. Although she has since hung up her boxing gloves having retired in November 2019, Adams will always be a shining star in the LGBTQ+ boxing community.
Heroes of Progress: welcoming transgender boxers
Someone else who has proven themselves to be a hero for LGBTQ+ boxers is Patricio Manuel. In 2018 Manuel was the first openly transgender boxer to compete in a professional bout. Manuel boasted a very successful amateur career before his transition but faced a great deal of hate and ignorance as he battled to prove that Trans people deserve a place in boxing. Though he lost his coach, his job, and friends along the way he has become a boxing legend and a role model for many young LGBTQ+ athletes across the world. More recently he became the face of Everlast, as the top manufacturer of boxing and fitness equipment this marks an incredible step in both the worlds of boxing and LGBTQ+ representation.
Heroes of Progress: welcoming transgender boxing promoters
Another icon who has proven that there is a place for anyone in boxing is Kellie Maloney. Previously known by her dead name Frank Maloney, she was the manager of Lennox Lewis the world heavyweight champion in 2000. Maloney completed her gender reassignment in 2015 and struggled to return to world of boxing. Despite previous comments and claims about sexuality she has proven that she has grown and become the person she always wanted to be. Maloney is currently promoting Cathy McAleer, a hopeful professional boxer from Northern Ireland who had the passion and drive to push herself into a boxing career after winning karate and kickboxing championships. McAleer won her most recent bout in February and we may soon see Kellie Maloney retake her place at the top of boxing promotion as a shining example of pride and perseverance.
Welcoming wider communities to boxing
But the LGBTQ+ boxing community is so much more than openly out athletes and trainers. In 2016 KNOCKOUT opened as the first LGBTQ+ boxing club in London, focusing on bringing people together through sport and creating a safe space for anyone who feels like they are different. The nonprofit club is open to all abilities and trains 3 times a week letting anyone who are interesting jump in and learn how to be a boxer. KNOCKOUT’s success is proof that boxing is for anyone to enjoy and should be celebrated for the fun it brings to its patrons.
Just like KNOCKOUT, there is an LGBTQ+ white collar event called Pride Boxing that is held in association with London Pride. The event allows anyone to sign up and be matched with someone of similar weight class and ability. Free training is provided to applicants who only pay a £25 deposit. The event aims to raise funds for the Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity for young LGBTQ+ individuals who are homeless or without family support. Having previously held 3 successful events Pride Boxing shows that boxing can be used to bring the LGBTQ+ community together and help those who need it most.
Although boxing may still appear to be a stoic ‘boys club’, it is through the actions of brave LGBTQ+ athletes and coaches who push the boundaries of the sport, turning gyms into safe spaces where all that matters is your love of boxing. The LGBTQ+ boxing community may still be young, but it is constantly growing and that is truly something to be proud of.
About Unorthodoxx and our womens boxing gloves
Unorthodoxx is the UK’s first Women’s Boxing brand that has been created purely for women and has exclusively designed women’s boxing gloves and women’s boxing clothing. Our products and equipment are designed to offer the ultimate fit, protection and durability for female boxers and combat sports fighters. From novice beginners to elite competition Unorthodoxx fight gear offers the best women’s boxing gloves, clothing and equipment.