The WBC, one of the four major world boxing bodies has announced that they plan to create a transgender division for male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-Male (FTM) professional boxers.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman stated they plan to introduce the new division in 2023 and call interested athletes to come forward. “We are going to put out a global call for those who are interested in 2023 and we will set up the protocols, start consultation and most likely create a league and a tournament,” Sulaiman told The Telegraph.

“It is the time to do this, and we are doing this because of safety and inclusion. We have been the leaders in rules for women’s boxing – so the dangers of a man fighting a woman will never happen because of what we are going to put in place. 


“In boxing, a man fighting a woman must never be accepted regardless of gender change. There should be no grey area around this, and we want to go into it with transparency and the correct decisions. Woman to man or man to woman transgender change will never be allowed to fight a different gender by birth.”

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

“We do not yet know the numbers that there are out there, but we’re opening a universal registration in 2023, so that we can understand the boxers that are out there – and we’ll start from there.”

Transgender rights in sports have been a hot topic in all sports across the world. In 2021, New Zealand organisation Rainbow Boxing New Zealand was created in hopes of creating a National Rainbow Competition, however, it was shut down a year later citing the New Zealand Boxing amateur body’ “Boxing New Zealand inc” was not ready for such an organisation. The president of Rainbow Boxing New Zealand accused Boxing NZ as transphobic and the community of being homophobic.

“I am advocating a separate division where trans women compete with trans women and trans men compete with other trans men. NOT Trans women competing against CIS women nor Trans men competing against CIS men. Currently, the stance with Boxing New Zealand is that trans women must fight cisgender men and trans men must fight cisgender women which is also unsafe and technically a breach of human rights. What I was trying to achieve is that the trans community who wish to compete as an amateur boxer has their own division so they can get the dignity and respect to be named under the gender that they are transitioning in. Boxing New Zealand has refused to consider this option, and this was the criticism I was levelling at the organisation.”

Since this accusation, Boxing New Zealand lost their main broadcaster Sky Sports NZ who would broadcast New Zealand Golden Gloves and the New Zealand Amateur Boxing Championships.

Four months later, however, Boxing New Zealand announced they had created their own Transgender division, called the open category.

One News New Zealand reported on August 30th: In their statement, Boxing NZ outlined data behind their decision to create the category and why male puberty was a key issue, noting from a World Rugby Summary of transgender biology and performance research that there is an average 160% advantage in punching force for a male vs a female boxer. 

“Allowing any male, regardless of how he identifies, to box against a female would be to actively accept that the physical safety of a female boxer is worth less than the wishes of a male boxer to be included in the sex category they identify with,” Boxing NZ said. 

“We will not allow male people who have undergone puberty and who may be undertaking a medical transition to participate in the female category given the evidence around retained advantage.” 

Boxing NZ added female participants in the sport “welcome the inclusion and participation of gender diverse people in boxing but have made it very clear they will not accept transgender females competing in the female category in the name of inclusion”.

Since August when Boxing New Zealand announced the open division for transgender boxers, Boxing NZ has yet to sanction their first Transgender fight.

In 2023 will have the World Gay boxing Championships which will happen in Australia during the World Pride event. This will include Transgender boxers that will be allowed to compete. During the build-up to the event, the creator Martin Start asked for all major bodies to send a letter of support for the event to happen. WBA, WBC, WBO and two amateur bodies AIBA and IOC announced their letter of support. The only body that declined to announce their support of the event was the professional body, IBF.

Going back to the WBC announcing a transgender division, this would make big moves for the Transgender boxing community. Looking at it in this way, we would have Rankings, their affiliated bodies and federations would have regional titles for transgender athletes, and best of all there would be World titles for transgender boxers.

There are very few transgender boxers that are open to the world. This includes the most well-known trans boxer, Patricio Manuel who fought and won against a cismale boxer in 2018. Another well-known combat sports fighter that could transition to boxing could be MMA fighter, Fallon Fox. There are also retired fighters including 41-year-old Muay Thai fighter Parinya Charoenphol and former WBC World flyweight champion Go Shindo who is also retired in 2016.

Article | Ben Watt.