Boxing is the best sport for bringing people and communities together. Friday 10th December 2021 was one of the most amazing days I have experienced entering the ring for my first fight visibly supported by my opponent, coaches, friends and family attending in person or watching online. My fight proved that homophobia can be ended in boxing and sport with everyone participating in a friendly and welcoming environment.
The 1980s was a difficult experience for a scared gay teenager firmly in the closet. It was a decade of intensified and state sanctioned homophobia in the UK with entrenched discrimination and the notorious Section 28. The courage of the few visible LGBTQ+ people gave me hope. The song Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and its iconic video were banned by the BBC to “protect” the public from “homosexuality”. I was proud to walk out to Relax and wear the rainbow flag as I entered the ring.
Being a successful combat athlete requires speed, agility, quickness and power, all of which need to be developed to become truly competitive. The goal in boxing is to win fights which means warding off or minimalise the impact of your opponent's punches. The psychological punches of homophobia, transphobia and racism deter many and people should not have to experience hatred to participate in sport.
2021 has seen my boxing skills and love for the sport taken to a whole new level. This goes beyond merely punching bags and pads, foot drills, defensive techniques and sparring. My personal coach and all coaches took the time to learn about my autoimmune condition Addison's disease ensuring I could safely train and telling me when to take a break. There was incredible visible advocacy with coaches and fellow participants from Corporate Fighter supporting a Pride Month campaign and featuring in stories for CNN and SBS News.
Thank you to everyone who supported WGBC and me. We boxed the box!