Australia – Lawyers Weekly Article: Why lawyers should get involved in WorldPride

This month marks an opportune time for lawyers to support the LGBTI community in championing equality, diversity and inclusion — both in the workplace and outside of it.

Martin Stark, who is the founder and chief executive of World Gay Boxing Championships Limited (WGBC), spoke to Lawyers Weekly in the lead-up to WorldPride 2023, noting the importance of such initiatives.

Mr Stark is the brains behind the first-ever World Gay Boxing Championships, which will be held from 18 to 19 February at the Australian Turf Club in Sydney.

“You’re going to see boxing in its purest form. We have people at different levels. Our program focuses on people new to boxing, more experienced to advanced boxers, so people are going to be matched [accordingly] and under Boxing Australia rules,” he explained when asked about the event.

“But you’re also going to see the heart of the LGBTQ+ community. We have two fabulous drag queens who are going to be the hosts, we’re going to have a great DJ, so you’re going to get that great spirit of boxing but you’re also going to get the spirit of the community.

“And the main thing is everyone having a good time and learning how to break those barriers that exist for the LGBTQ+ community and boxing as a sport in general.”

Mr Stark knows firsthand how important that sense of community is.

“I have a rare condition called Addison’s disease, and at the end of 2017, I almost died from it. It reminded me of a time in 2006 [when] I was in three induced comas and had a tracheostomy,” he said.

“Almost dying again brought back the memories out of 2006, so I started taking self-defence classes, attending boxing classes, and then I moved different gyms and started training at a place I felt welcomed and accepted, and my vision for the World Gay Boxing Championships came about because the Gay Games Hong Kong didn’t offer boxing on its list of sports, so I had an idea to create the world’s first boxing competition for the LGBTQ+ community and allies.

“Without doubt, the most rewarding aspect has been the relationships and friendships that have been forged both here and overseas … I’m also proud of my personal efforts to get the message out in combating homophobia in sports and there being LTGBQ+ inclusion in boxing out there in the world.”

Mr Stark, who worked with lawyers and law firms during his 15 years in technology procurement, said there is a real benefit in the profession getting involved in events like the World Gay Boxing Championships.

“If you look at the changes that have been made through sport in society, whether that’s human rights, breaking down barriers, lawyers help people, they help the community,” Mr Stark said.

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