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WBC planning to introduce transgender boxing category, says president Mauricio Sulaiman

The World Boxing Council says its prospective transgender category would adopt the "at birth" rule, meaning that a trans fighter assigned as a male at birth only be able to compete against a fellow trans fighter assigned as a male at birth

The WBC women's boxing title belt is displayed on the ring prior to the women's unification world middleweight championship boxing bout between Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Image: The World Boxing Council are planning to introduce a transgender category

World Boxing Council (WBC) president Mauricio Sulaiman says the organisation plans to introduce a new transgender category and will put out a call for interested athletes to come forward in 2023.

The prospective category would adopt the "at birth" rule, meaning that a trans fighter assigned as a male at birth would only be able to compete against a fellow trans fighter assigned as a male at birth.

"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 told The Telegraph.

"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.

"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. Woman to man or man to woman transgender change will never be allowed to fight a different gender by birth."

Transgender rights have become a major talking point as sports seek to balance inclusivity while ensuring there is no unfair advantage.

Tyson Fury v Dillian Whyte - Open Workout - BOXPARK Wembley
World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman during an open workout at BOXPARK Wembley, London. Picture date: Tuesday April 19, 2022.
Image: WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman wants transgender athletes to come forward in 2023

In June 2022, swimming's world governing body FINA voted to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite women's competitions and created a working group to establish an "open" category.

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FINA's policy requires transgender competitors to have completed their transition by the age of 12 in order to be able to compete in women's competitions.

However, with the stakes even higher in combat sports given the potential physical danger for athletes, Sulaiman insists his proposed structure is the correct way to make the sport more inclusive.

Sulaiman added: "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 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."

The British Boxing Board of Control responded by saying discussions over a transgender category are only "hypothetical", but that discussions have begun over their policy.

"At the moment this is hypothetical but we can see it coming and we are looking at our transgender policy," BBBofC general secretary Robert Smith told The Telegraph.

"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."

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