Fighting stereotypes includes both educating the public with facts, as well as demonstrating the reality of a shared experience that shatters preconceived notions. Certainly for gay men, breaking free of societal prejudices and forging our own identity on our own terms, is an ongoing battle that we celebrate each June during Pride month. Remembering the earlier pioneers who dared to challenge the status quo, those brave trans sisters who through the first bricks at Stonewall, is fundamental in our path forward as we continue to fight for freedom of expression and the same rights for everyone.
Perhaps nothing better captures this idea of fighting for gay rights than an actual gay fighter. In 2019 an Australian man, Martin Stark, organized an association for LGBTQ+ boxers, and Instinct Magazine has an exclusive interview with him as he talks about the sport and the goals for his group.
Hi Martin, tell us a little bit about yourself and why you took up boxing.
“I am an amateur boxer and started training three years ago. I have the rare autoimmune condition Addison’s disease and almost died at the end of December 2017. Boxing is full body form of exercise increasing muscle tone, cardiovascular fitness levels while helping to strengthen bones and ligaments. The psychological benefits include stress relief, increasing levels confidence and self-esteem and improved co-ordination. Boxing has helped me manage stress and recover from PTSD.”
Tell us a little bit about your group.
“We are an Australian Not-For-Profit (NFP) company and will hold boxing championships for the LGBTQIA+ community aligned with Amateur Boxing International Association (AIBA) rules. We want to increase LGBTQIA + inclusion and participation in boxing. We do not yet have Affiliates and chapters as we are in our first year of operation and are focusing on organising our first championships.”
“I wanted to compete at the Gay Games in Hong Kong but boxing is not on the list so decided to create the World Gay Boxing Championships. There has never been a LGBTQ+ boxing championships and I wanted to provide opportunities for our community to participate in a safe and friendly environment.”
“In February 2023 we are holding the inaugural championships in Sydney coinciding with Mardi Gras and World Pride. The WBC, IBO, WBO and WBA have all provided statements of support. Boxing is a fantastic sport!”
What has been the response from the traditional boxing world?
“We have had tremendous support and allyship from non-LGBTQIA+ boxers and the boxing community. Boxing Australia and Boxing NSW are providing institutional support and helping us organise the championships. We have received statements of support from the World Boxing Council, International Boxing Organization, World Boxing Organization and World Boxing Association.”
And from the LGBTQ+ community?
“The response has been mainly positive with most people wishing us good luck and some wanting to help or participate. We have received fantastic support from the LGBTQIA+ sporting family particularly the Federation of Gay Games and Compete Sports Diversity Council. We are breaking the stereotype that boxing is a heteronormative sport and does not welcome the LGBTQIA+ community. I believe the heart of boxing is at the grassroots level and there is a new spirit of inclusion specifically within the LGBTQIA+ community. People all over the world practise boxing at their gym or local club for fitness and not everyone spars or fights in the ring.”
Great! Thanks so much for your time, Martin. And good luck with the club!
For more information on Martin and the gay boxing championships, jump over to their website: