Mannschaft Magazin | Boxing, Gay Games & WGBC
Newsdesk, Mannschaft Magazin
27th Aug 2020
Australian founds the "World Gay Boxing Championships"
After boxing at the Gay Games 2022 in Hong Kong was canceled, Martin Stark took the initiative himself and founded the “World Gay Boxing Championships”. The championship will take place in Sydney for the first time in 2023.
Martin Stark was in the hospital when he received the bad news. The 2022 Hong Kong Gay Games removed boxing from the program. It was a major setback for the 45-year-old Australian, as sport had awakened a new zest for life in him after his illness broke out.
Stark suffers from adrenal insufficiency, often called Addison's disease. To improve his stamina and self-confidence, he signed up for a self-defense course in 2017. Shortly afterwards he got into the boxing ring for the first time.
Boxing became a new passion. "In school sports, I was chosen last," Stark told Reuters news agency. In Hong Kong, he wanted to compete with other queer boxers on the international stage. "I saw myself as a future gay boxing world champion and wanted to win the gold medal for Australia."
While still in bed, Stark decided to found his own championship: the "World Gay Boxing Championships" . He wants to host the event for the first time as part of Word Pride 2023 in Sydney. He hopes to attract LGBTIQ boxers from all over the world to Sydney. “I want to empower the community to achieve their dreams and do what they want to do,” he said. "For me that means encouraging other people to box."
The boxing community welcomed him with open arms, continued Stark. Unfortunately, it often looks different on a professional level. Mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor and world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao hit the headlines because of homophobic statements. The latter lost the sponsorship contract with Nike in 2016 (MANNSCHAFT reported) .
Martin Stark hopes that one day LGBTIQ people will be able to compete in mainstream championships without being exposed to homophobia or transphobia. Then events like the “World Gay Boxing Championships” will no longer be needed. Until then, he would like sports and LGBTIQ communities to be enthusiastic about his project. "We'll need corporate sponsors, as well as the support of LGBTIQ athletes and the boxing world," he says. "I'm only now realizing how big the whole thing will be, and I'm looking forward to the challenge."