A Sydney boxer is looking for competitors for an exciting new event that he hopes will become “the Bingham Cup of boxing.”
Martin Stark took up boxing last year at his local club in Neutral Bay, discovering an aptitude and enjoyment for the sport – but also quickly realising that gay boxing lacked visibility.
“I immediately discovered my new passion in life,” says Stark.
“When I started training, I was disappointed that there were fewer than 1,000 Instagram posts for the #gayboxing hashtag, whereas #boxing had almost 20 million posts.
“This made me more determined to share my boxing journey, communicating how I have found the sport to be welcoming and inclusive, while demonstrating that equality for LGBTQI people is more than equal rights, but the right to enter the ring and compete.”
Stark says the crew at club BX1 have given him “tremendous support”, and he wants to see more LGBTQI people feeling empowered to participate.
“A 2014 study reported young LGBTQI people were 46%–76% less likely to participate in team sports than their [cis] heterosexual peers,” he says.
“We want to change that!”
The first World Gay Boxing Championships, organised by Stark, coach Bill Temm, and former South Pacific Boxing champion Paul Toweel, are set to be held in Sydney to coincide with the Mardi Gras festival season, in February of either 2021 or 2022.
“It will be an inclusive, LGBTQI-friendly event for people from all countries, from all backgrounds, open to everyone of all abilities, from beginners to experienced boxers,” says Stark.
He adds that there has been a “renaissance” of boxing in the LGBTQI community, with the sport featuring for the first time in last year’s Gay Games.
“There have been several lesbian World Championship boxers,” he says.
“Patricio Manuel is the first openly trans boxer to compete professionally, and won his first match last December despite jeers from some spectators who wanted to see him lose.”
Stark says that boxing is more than just sport, especially for the LGBTQI community.
“We will be offering an event where everyone can feel they belong, while helping to improve mental and physical health outcomes,” he explains.
“Boxing is a full-body form of exercise, increasing muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness levels, while helping to strengthen bones and ligaments.”
“The psychological benefits include stress relief, increased levels of confidence and self-esteem, and improved coordination.”
“We believe in the modern world it’s also about championing confidence, good health, love, community and friendship.”
“We want people to enjoy themselves, create new friendships, celebrate and share successes, and have fun.”
Stark welcomes all locals interested in trying boxing to come along to BX1 in Neutral Bay.
Anyone interested in the championships can email [email protected] for more information.