Patricio Manuel

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Youtube Video
The Fight Game: Jim Lampley​ sits down with Pat Manuel

Patricio “Pat” Manuel (known as “Cacahuate” in the boxing world) is a professional boxer residing in Long Beach, California. He is well known as the first transgender​ professional boxer in the United States, and the first transgender male professional boxer in the world. [3]​ [1]​ [2]

Early Life

Patricio Manuel is of Irish​ and black​ ethnicity. Manuel grew up in South Bay, Los Angeles​ and never really knew his father. Manuel was raised by his mother, Loretta Butler and his grandmother, Patricia Jean Butler who both supported him throughout his childhood and career. [4]​ 

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Patricio with his mother, Loretta Butler, and his sister, Meg Onli [4]

Manuel's mother, Loretta Butler, said both of her children who were born female​ wore boys clothes and enjoyed playing with toys typically played with by boys. While Manuel was experienced gender dysphoria while growing up, his sister, Meg Onli is lesbian​. [4]

Manuel’s grandmother pushed him into boxing​ in high school, giving him a Christmas-present membership in a boxing club to help him lose weight. Manuel found that boxing helped him with his gender dysphoria​. At the time he struggling with his gender identity​ however he didn’t have the language for it. It really became a challenge during puberty​. Manuel grew up in the Japanese community and loved Dragon Ball​, martial arts films, ​and video games. ​When he was really struggling with himself, the masculinity​ that he wanted to embody was that of a fighter. Manuel only thought of this subconsciously​, since he had no idea what trans was at the time. [5]​ [4]​ 

Boxing Career

Youtube Video
Former Olympic Hopeful Fighting for Trans Athletes | Identify

After Patricio Manuel started seeing boxing as a career, he began training at the Commerce Boxing Club and spending long hours working with Roberto Luna, who trained three Olympians. [4]​ [5]

As a female Manuel became a five-time national champion in the amateur women’s division. He almost became an Olympic fighter however during the 2012 women’s Olympic Trials, Manuel had to withdraw after one bout with a shoulder injury. That fight, a one-sided lightweight​ loss to Florida's Tiara Brown, would be Manuel’s last as a female. Even before the trials Manuel had thought of transitioning, but the hope of representing the U.S. in the first Olympic boxing tournament for women held him back. [3]​ [4]

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Patricio Manuel training​ [10]

After the loss and injury, there was no reason to wait. On the trip home, Manuel told Butler her daughter would soon become her son – then waited for the response. “I said, ‘OK, if that’s going to make you happy’,” Butler remembers. “I told him I would support him 100% in whatever he chose to do. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter to me. I just want him to be happy. It was a natural transition.” [4]


For Butler, the transition was both natural and necessary. Manuel started the process with hormone replacement therapy in September 2013 and in less than five months had put on 15 pounds, grew facial hair​ and heard his voice drop a couple of octaves. [4]​ [1]​ 


The following spring, 26 months after his final fight as a woman, Manuel flew to Salt Lake City​ for surgery, which involved the removal of the breasts​​ and the shaping of a male-contoured chest. [4]

 

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Patricio with his mother, Loretta Butler, after a gender transitioning surgery [4]

His grandmother paid for the nearly $6,000 operation, which is the point of no return in the transition process. And just as she traveled the country to offer ringside support during Manuel’s fights, Butler traveled to Salt Lake City to offer support before and after the surgery. [4]


“I’m a masculine person but I don’t want to be a man necessarily,” Manuel said at the time of the surgery. “I want to be, I guess, free of those binds. But because we live in a world where it’s male or female, I have to shift over. … I want to be able to compete with males.” [4]


Youtube Video
Transgender Boxer | Pat Manuel // 60 Second Docs

While most of his sparring partners were respectful of his transition, Manuel was kicked out of a gym in Carson, California​ after the owner found he was transgender. His coach, Roberto Luna, who had been with him for over 70 fights, also dropped him. Manuel then began training with Vic Valenzuela who trained a number of decorated fighters at the Duarte Boxing Club. [4]

After medically transitioning under a doctor’s supervision, following USA Boxing​ and International Olympic Committee guidelines. He stepped back into the ring on May 5, 2016 in the amateur male division fight and won. [3]​ [4]


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