World Boxing Council (WBC) president Mauricio Sulaimán has announced plans to add a league for transgender fighters.
With the debate of transgender athletes competing in professional sports alongside their cisgender counterparts reaching a boiling point in recent years, many sports organizations have opted to ban transgender athletes altogether. That includes the WBC which announced a ban earlier this year citing “fairness” and “equal competition” as the driving force. As society continues to examine issues of inclusivity and fairness in sports, it is likely that this debate will continue.
The World Boxing Council (WBC), one of the most respected governing bodies in boxing, made its position on transgender athletes clear in August. In contrast, mixed martial arts organizations have been relatively quiet on their official policies, with the exception of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF).
Sulaimán Explains WBC’s Decision to Include Trans Categories
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, the World Boxing Council (WBC) President Mauricio Sulaimán is considering creating a league for transgender boxers and plans to conduct a global survey to assess the number of athletes who may be interested in participating.
“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,” Sulaimán said. “It is the time to do this, and we are doing this because of safety and inclusion. We have been the leaders in 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.”
Mauricio Sulaiman, the president of the WBC, has announced that transgender boxing will be permitted by the organisation from 2023.
— IFL TV (@IFLTV) December 29, 2022
“In boxing, a man fighting a woman must never be accepted regardless of gender change. There should be no grey area around this, and we want to go into it with transparency and the correct decisions,” Sulaimán added. “Woman to man or man to woman transgender change will never be allowed to fight a different gender by birth…. 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… 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”
That is quite a change from comments Sulaimán made in 2020 during an Instagram live session where he vehemently disagreed with the concept of genders outside of biologically born males and females.
“Transgender is not accepted because there’s a difference between a man and a woman. The WBC does not accept transgender boxing,” Sulaimán said. “There’s only male and female, there’s no in between. People say it has to be the same – so you mean we have to do pregnancy tests for men as well? I mean, it’s a really big difference” (h/t talkSPORT)
🙅♂️ A controversial topic in sport, but not one that's come up in boxing all that often – WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman gives his stance on transgender boxers after being asked to explain why women do shorter fights than men…
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) April 2, 2020