When Patricio Manuel took the ring to face Hugo Aguilar on Saturday, Manuel became the first transgender male to fight professionally in the United States.
Manuel, who previously attempted to fight for the United States as a female in the 2012 Olympics, went on to win the bout by unanimous decision for his first career professional victory.
At 34, Manuel had not fought since 2016 due to injuries and trouble finding opponents. In 2016, Manuel had his first two fights as a man. He won the first by decision and lost the second by decision.
"I think if people knew what it took to get to this moment, it’s been almost two years since I’ve been in a ring," Manuel said after the fight. "I just have to say my opponent, hats off to him. He came to fight. He was fighting me the whole time. He fought me as a man, and I have so much respect for him."
According to Kevin Baxter of The Los Angeles Times, Manuel would have started his transition to male prior to 2012, but held off on making the move in hopes of representing the United States in the first Olympic boxing tournament for women.
A shoulder injury in the first match of the Olympic trials prevent Manuel from competing at the tournament. After working back from the injury and getting through his transition, Manuel still had trouble getting in the ring because the California State boxing commission was hesitant to allow him to fight. That is, until the International Olympic Committee ruled female-to-male transgender athletes could compete in the 2016 games "without restriction." After that, USA Boxing approved Manuel's license.
"I just need to say to everyone that's been along with this journey for like six years really, thank you so much," Manuel said. "I couldn't be here without you. I really needed that support to help push me to this point … There's so many people that just wanted me to be here, and I'm so happy that I could perform for them.
"I'm not in here just for one show, for one fight. This is something I love. I'm not done with this sport. I’ll be back."
"I hear some fans aren't happy," Manuel said in response to boos from the crowd. "It's OK, I'll be back. I'll make them happy then."