Pat Manuel’s half-hour runs along the quiet, tree-lined streets of Altadena are only partly about exercise. Mainly they’re a time to reflect on the journey that has brought him here, one that was a lot longer and bumpier than the hilly roads on which he runs.
A five-time amateur boxing champion whose biggest tournament ended in surrender, Manuel is just months away from his pro debut.
He has cycled through a number of dead-end jobs and now owns a digital marketing company. It’s called Dark Horse, a name Manuel hopes is prophetic as well as prosaic.
Manuel says the biggest daily reminder that he has finally taken control of his life comes when he looks in the mirror each morning. For years he saw an uncertain woman looking back at him. Now the reflection is of a confident young man, the Adam’s apple and scruffy facial hair evidence that while Manuel’s journey is not complete, it’s now headed in the right direction.
“I still have split seconds of not recognizing myself. But for the most part, I feel more comfortable than I ever have in my body,” says Manuel, who underwent gender-reassignment surgery, becoming the first boxer in U.S. history to fight first as a woman and later as a man.
“It never crossed my mind to give up. It has absolutely been worth this journey to live publicly as my true self.”
It has absolutely been worth this journey to live publicly as my true self.
— Pat Manuel
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