The World Boxing Council is planning to set up a transgender boxer category, president Mauricio Sulaiman said in a recent interview with The Telegraph.
Sulaiman said the WBC will put out a “global call” for participants. There will be two separate categories for trans men and trans women.
The move makes the WBC the first major professional boxing organization to build a policy specifically for transgender athletes. Suleiman said the goal of this effort is to maintain safety factors and fair competition, while opening up the sport to potential trans competitors.
Last August, the WBC barred transgender boxers from competing against cisgender fighters.
“It is the time to do this and we are doing this because of safety and inclusion,” Suleiman said. “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’re opening a universal registration in 2023, so that we can understand the boxers that are out there and we’ll start from there.”
The WBC president also said rules and regulations for the category will be introduced when they’re able to measure interest. The last time that a transgender boxer has been in the professional ring, at least in the U.S., was Patricio Manuel’s debut victory over Hugo Aguilar in 2018.
That fight pitted a transgender man against a cisgender man, which would violate the WBC’s current regulations.
The regulatory landscape within combat sports varies greatly across a gamut of governing organizations. Boxing specifically has largely left such matters up to individual state athletic councils in the U.S. or national governing bodies abroad.
USA Boxing is the only American organization with a comprehensive policy regarding trans fighters, following the now-outdated IOC policy from the initial Stockholm Consensus in 2003. Those guidelines mandate that transgender women must undergo genital surgery and gonadectomy in order to compete, and are forbidden from competing no sooner than two years after the completion of those procedures.
Sulaiman hopes the WBC’s policy can be an example for other sports organizations to follow.
“There shouldn’t be any barriers to sport, to being included and being able to participate in a sport that you love and you want to do,” he said.