Founder & CEO of The World Gay Boxing Championships
MARTIN STARK IS THE FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE WORLD GAY BOXING CHAMPIONSHIPS
What inspired you to found the World Gay Boxing Championships, to be held in Sydney in 2023?
I admired the successes of other LGBTQI+ sporting competitions and wanted to compete at a world event. After learning boxing did not form part of the sports for the 2022 Gay Games I decided to create the World Gay Boxing Championships (WGBC) and hold the world’s first LGBTQI+ inclusive boxing championships.
How welcoming was the boxing community to the idea?
The boxing community in Australia has extended the hand of friendship welcoming the LGBTQI+ community into the boxing community. Boxing Australia agreed to endorse our objectives and immediately released a statement of support.
Have you ever experienced any negative reaction to yourself as an “out” boxer?
The only negative reactions I have experienced as an ”out” boxer have been on social media and I don’t care what trolls think. It has been easy to be me in the sport and the President of Boxing NSW has become a close personal friend. My boxing coach is a good mate and staunch ally of the LGBTQI+ community.
How important is inclusivity in sport, both for the individual and for the wider community?
Sport provides health and wellness benefits. For example, boxing improves muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness levels providing the psychological benefits of stress relief, increasing levels of confidence and self-esteem and improved co-ordination. Inclusivity is important because it creates an environment where people feel welcome to participate without fear and harassment. Sport brings people and communities together creating a sense of belonging.
Personally and professionally, what has been your proudest achievement?
Professionally, my proudest achievement is the hard work of everyone on the Board of WGBC, turning a bold vision into a not for profit company and we are well advanced in the organisation of the world champiwonships. Personally, I am proud of the Australian and global LGBTQI+ boxing community and our allies training for the championships.