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The boxing championships were aimed at disrupting homophobia, transphobia and hatred in sports.

Because of the disease, Stark was in two induced comas and had a tracheostomy. He recalls that after his second he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, with the “dreams of a coma that actually cause trauma”.

And so he came to boxing, the sport that he describes as the gift of “being myself, feeling good, feeling vulnerable”. , the world’s first LGBTQI + boxing tournament to be held in Sydney in 2023.

The list of events sponsored by Boxing Australia as well as most of the sport’s leading organizers and administrators include amateur fighters of various weights, ages and abilities.

Stark hopes that the WGBC will not only introduce sport to a whole new audience, but that it will also “interfere with homophobia, transphobia and hatred in sport”.

“I think it’s all about visibility and representation,” he told CNN Sport. “There were pioneers in the world of boxing. They believe that until 2012 women were unable to compete in the Olympics. Remember what Nicola Adams achieved cut a trail of boxers.

“And I think that’s the reason for my whole spirit of inclusivity – because of what other people have achieved and for me, my organization, we are very grassroots and amateur, but we want homophobia, transphobia, Hatred in sport. “

READ: “Maybe he wasn’t the problem. Maybe I was’: How Muhammad Ali stayed true to himself on his way to becoming an icon

“Boxing is for everyone”

Swimmer was strong at school. He remembers being selected last in school sports, aside from the pool.

His introduction to boxing came when he was visiting his local martial arts center for some self-defense classes.

Before that he had found the sport to be “barbaric”. But it has become a safe space.

Because of the male nature of the sport, many people might think of boxing as very “heteronormative,” said Stark. But as a member of the LGBTQI + community, he finds sport extremely inclusive.

“Boxing is for everyone,” he says.

“From my personal experience, I’ve found the sport to be very inclusive. I’ve been welcomed to various gyms,” continues Stark.

Strong with the word "courage" on his back before marching at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in March 2019.  Now he has the word tattooed on his back.

“I was training for my first bouts and all of my trainers at the gym, the trainers, everyone who was involved in our first fight, were so friendly that the trainers and participants even made ‘Happy Pride Month’ videos.”

Stark fell in love with the sport and immersed himself completely in the club and the classes there. He recalls jokingly calling himself “the future gay boxing champion”.

He dreamed of boxing at the Gay Games in 2022, but the sport has been eliminated from the upcoming games – postponed to 2023 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This gave rise to his idea for the WGBC. “I just got the idea: ‘Why don’t I organize the world’s first LGBTQI + boxing championships that our allies also take part in?'” He recalls.

The first WGBC will be held in Sydney in 2023 to coordinate with WorldPride and Mardi Gras in the city.

Stark has received endorsement stamps from the world’s leading boxing organizations: the World Boxing Association, the International Boxing Organization, the World Boxing Council, and the World Boxing Organization.

READ: “Every Time I Raise the Bar, I am just raising my country”: Shiva Karout’s quest for powerlifting fameStrong training with trainer Tanya in Sydney, the venue of the World Gay Boxing Championships.

Start at the bottom

Stark hopes that the WGBC can not only host a boxing festival for all ages, abilities and skill levels, but can also influence the representation of LGBTQI + in sport.

“There have been very few professional gay boxers who have won major championships,” he said. “I think representation and visibility are really important.”

However, Stark believes that while improving representation at the elite level is important, there is insufficient focus on the broad and amateur levels.

As with the Bingham Cup – a biennial, international, non-professional, gay rugby union tournament – he hopes the WGBC can encourage young members of the LGBTQI + community interested in boxing to try the sport.

But Stark not only hopes to dig into the sweet science, but also hopes that he can stop homophobia and transphobia in sports.

According to a study, 80 percent of the more than 12,000 participants from around the world have experienced or experienced homophobia in sports. The study also found that 78 percent of participants believed that an openly gay person would not be very safe to watch a sporting event.

Although he was exposed to “typical social media trolling” – something he ignores – in founding the WGBC, he believes it can make a difference.

“There is more to be done, but really at the grassroots and amateur levels. And I’m talking about disruption through inclusion and participation, ”he said.

Stark and WGBC Ambassador Shaun Jacobs celebrate Pride Month with fellow attendees training to compete on a fight night to raise funds for the WGBC.“I work with an organization called Proud to Play. They will conduct counseling services and community engagement for us to support our trans and gender diversity policy. But we’re also working with them on an inclusive gym project. You think if you feel more welcome to the gym, if you feel welcome to exercise, you are more likely to be an amateur and maybe even a professional exercise. ”Visit CNN. com / sport for more news, features, and videos

Stark’s first hope is that the WGBC “can bring boxing, LGBTQI + and the wider community together”.

As for his long-term hopes? He wants something transcendent.

“I want the reason I started the organization [homophobia, transphobia, etc.] Ceased to exist at the end of the decade. ”

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