World Boxing Council officials said in a report Thursday that the international professional prizefighting organization would create a new category for transgender fighters in 2023.
Mauricio Sulaiman, the council president, told The Telegraph he believes it’s time for the sport to address issues of “safety and inclusion.”
“We are going to put out a global call for those who are interested in 2023, and we will set up the protocols, start consultation and most likely create a league and a tournament,” Sulaiman said.
In 1963, then President of Mexico, Adolfo López Mateos, established the organization with 11 other countries — including the United States — as an initiative to create an organization that would unify all the commissions of the world and develop the expansion of boxing, the WBC website reads.
Today, Sulaiman and council officials work to enhance boxing, “as well as to protect the health and well-being of all boxers — above any interest.”
Sulaiman added that the nearly 60-year-old organization created the rules for women’s boxing “so the dangers of a man fighting a woman will never happen because of what we are going to put in place.”
“In boxing, a man fighting a woman must never be accepted regardless of gender change,” the council’s president said. “There should be no grey area around this, and we want to go into it with transparency and the correct decisions.”
“Woman to man or man to woman transgender change will never be allowed to fight a different gender by birth,” he said.
Council officials would reportedly create a set of rules and structures for transgender boxing to take place.
The British Boxing Board of Control told The Telegraph that the organization confirmed it would also examine its transgender policy while committing to adopting the “at birth” policy, which Sulaiman detailed as never allowing a woman who transitioned to a man to fight a woman who was born a woman.
“At the moment, this is hypothetical, but we can see it coming, and we are looking at our transgender policy,” General Secretary Robert Smith of the board said. “It is what you are born as, as rugby union does. When it does [happen], we intend to be fully prepared. Medical and, perhaps more importantly, legal considerations will have to be taken into account.”
Natasha Jonas, the light middleweight world champion from Liverpool, said in an interview with the outlet that organization officials are “jumping the gun, but in the right way.”
“It should be quite clear — it is unfair in a combat sport, and it is dangerous,” Jonas said. “I think it should be the same in any sport — but in combat sports, it is dangerous.”
Jonas said the move from the organization makes sense.
As a female boxer, Jonas said she has no problem with transgender boxing. However, if a male transitions to a female, he should not compete as a woman.
“If a man transitioning to a woman fights a born woman, there are definitely physiological disadvantages for the female,” Jonas added. “If you’ve been through puberty either man to woman or woman to man — it’s clear what should be right.”
Sulaiman reached the same conclusion, the outlet reported.
“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,” he said. “We do not yet know the numbers that there are out there, but 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.”