International boxing organization launches transgender league over ‘safety’ concerns

The World Boxing Council (WBC) is launching separate categories dedicated to transgender fighters to ensure the “safety” of competitors, officials said Thursday.

WBC chairman Mauricio Sulaiman told The Telegraph in an interview published on Thursday that the new divisions next year must ensure that “the dangers of a man fighting a woman will never occur”.

“We will not – ever – allow a transgender born male to fight a female, who was born female,” he said firmly.

Instead, trans fighters will be organized under an “at birth” rule, which means that a trans fighter born male can only box against another trans fighter born male, and the same goes for those born a woman.

“Now is the time to do it, and we are doing it for reasons of safety and inclusion,” said Sulaiman, life president of what is one of the sport’s four major organisations.

Sulaiman said his organization is “creating a set of rules and structures so that transgender boxing can take place, as they fully deserve if they want to box.”
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“In boxing, a man fighting a woman should never be accepted, regardless of gender change.

“There shouldn’t be a gray area around this, and we want to go about it with transparency and make the right decisions,” he told the British newspaper.

“Transgender change from female to male or male to female will never be allowed to fight a different sex by birth.”

The WBC “will launch a global call for those who are interested in 2023”,
Sulaiman said it was not immediately clear how many aspiring trans fighters would be interested.

WBC belt.
Sulaiman said the WBC “will be making a global appeal to those who are interested in 2023.”
Future Publishing via Getty Imag

“We are creating a set of rules and structures so that transgender boxing can take place, as they fully deserve if they want to box,” he said.

The objective is then to “put in place the protocols, to launch the consultation and very probably to create a league and a tournament”, he specified.

The new rules follow controversies over athletes from other sports, including record-breaking swimmer Lia Thomas. He has also focused on other combat sports, such as mixed martial arts, where Alana McLaughlin smothered her female opponent in September as the second openly transgender woman to compete in the cage sport in the United States.

New WBC rules would bar trans fighters who have previously been successful in the ring from fighting in the organization’s events, with even those born as women now fighting men.

Prominent among them is Patricio Manuel, who was a five-time U.S. women’s amateur champion before making his professional debut as a men’s boxer in 2018, winning his first and only fight as a man.

Under WBC proposals, Manuel would only be eligible to box another trans man who was born female.

British boxer Natasha Jonas, world light middleweight champion, told The Telegraph the planned change ‘made sense’

“It’s dangerous anyway. If you were born female, you shouldn’t be fighting a male, and if a male transitioning to female is fighting a born female, there are definitely physiological disadvantages for the female,” she said.

“I as a female boxer have no problem with transgender boxing but if you’ve become a female you can’t compete as a female. You can’t compete with me. It’s that simple said Jonas.

“I’m all for people who play sports – but fairly.”

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