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This September, boxing company Everlast chose Patricio Manuel, the first professional transgender boxer, to be the face of the company. Everlast, one of the leading equipment brands in boxing, chose Manuel for its “Be First” campaign, according to CNN

Manuel competed as a woman and was a USA National Amateur Boxing Champion, and in 2012 was invited to compete in the Olympic trials. Unfortunately, Manuel was unable to participate due to a shoulder injury.

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While recuperating, Manuel decided to transition, potentially putting his status as a boxer at a risk. Various trainers and gyms ostracized Manuel, and a larger barrier was presented preventing him from participation: the boxing commission’s regulations. 

Six years later, Manuel was able to return.

He fought his first fight as an out, trans boxer on December 8, 2018, against Hugo Aguilar and won by unanimous decision.

Now, almost a year later, Manuel has been chosen as the Face of Boxing Goliath for Everlast. Manuel told CNN, “Everlast is such a fixture in the sport, and to have such an iconic athletic company recognize me as I am—as a professional boxer who is transgender—is a dream come true.”

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Manuel’s story is a testament to the perseverance and strength of trans people who create spaces for themselves and others to thrive and exist more fully. Manuel recognizes the importance of his prominence, saying, “At a time when transgender people are being questioned whether we have a place in the sporting world or even being recognized by the world at large, for Everlast to endorse me is huge. It’s a bold statement, and I think it personifies the saying ‘Be First.'”