Transgender boxer Patricio Manuel became the first transgender person to become the face of the iconic boxing brand Everlast this week.

Manuel will lead the company’s “Be First” campaign. He was the first transgender boxer to compete in the sport professionally.

Manuel said in a Thursday video released by Everlast that when he was a child, he “felt completely disconnected from myself. I just mentally checked out so that I could continue coping through life. 

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“It was boxing that brought me back into my body, and it was boxing that allowed me to be proud of actually what I was physically able to do, but boxing also taught me to really be introspective and be like ‘okay what do I really want, and how am I going to have to work for it, because, unfortunately, when you deviate from the norms that society has constructed, you have to fight for that identity and you have to really make it yourself,” Manuel said in the video.

Before he transitioned, Manuel won five national amateur championships and competed in the 2012 Olympic trials as a woman, NBC News reported.

But after a shoulder injury forced him to leave the sport, he made the decision to transition, even when people asked why he would give up boxing.

“That’s how bad I felt living that lie. If it meant that much to me, to risk the love of my life, boxing, then they knew that it was something that was valid,” Manuel said.

But he did return to the sport, and he won his first professional fight as a transgender man in 2018, NBC News reported.

“It’s going to hurt. Living your truth is going to hurt, but it’s worth it,” Manuel said.  

Boxing giants like Jack Dempsey, Sugar Ray Robinson and Canelo Álvarez have also all been the face of Everlast. The company is the leading manufacturer of boxing, mixed martial arts and fitness equipment, NBC News reported.