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'This is who I am' — Preparing for a bout with identity | A boxer's tale

When Pat Manuel stepped through the ropes and into the boxing ring at the South El Monte Community Center 13 months ago, it was the last step of a long journey, one that stretched back more than four years to Manuel’s last bout, in the 2012 Olympic Trials.

Along the way he lost his coach and his gym, two jobs and a handful of people he once considered friends.

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(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat Manuel gets an injection of testosterone from friend and strength coach Aaron Vasquez in the garage of his residence in Gardena.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

A few nights before a possible boxing match, Pat Manuel visualizes a fight scenario in a swimming pool after a workout in Long Beach.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat Manuel checks e-mails at his mothers house in Gardena the night before leaving for Salt Lake City for his surgery.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

As Pat Manuel undergoes top surgery, his mother, Loretta Butler, waits outside the operating room in Salt Lake City.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat Manuel goes under the knife for top surgery that was paid for by his grandmother.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Loretta Butler sits at the bedside of her son, Pat Manuel, after top surgery in Salt Lake City.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

As his mother, Loretta Butler, looks on, Pat Manuel smiles while seeing his nipples for the first time through a compression vest, one day after top surgery in Salt Lake City.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

One year after his top surgery, Pat Manuel celebrates with friends by throwing one of his old bras into a bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat shaves at his home in Long Beach the night before a boxing tournament in hopes of landing a bout and to compete for the first time as a male.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat Manuel works on conditioning during a workout as he prepares himself for his first fight as a transgender male.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat Manuel works on conditioning during a workout as he prepares himself for his first fight as a transgender male.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat strips down to weigh-in before a boxing tournament in Long Beach in hopes of getting a bout. To Pat's disappointment, he did not get one.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat watches a bout before stepping into the ring for the first time as a male during an exhibition match.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat Manuel stands in disbelief after his opponent left the gym and never came back to fight him during a tournament in Long Beach.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Pat Manuel takes a punch in his first match as a male boxer, part of a tournament in Covina.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

After his first match as a male boxer, Pat Manuel lets out a big smile as his mother, Loretta Butler, gives him a hug.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The night before a boxing tournament, Pat Manuel spends time with girlfriend Amita Swadhin at his Long Beach apartment.

Prior to the surgery, Pat fought as Patricia Manuel

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

June 26, 2011; Patricia Manuel was an Olympic boxing hopeful.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Oct. 2, 2011; Patricia Manuel stretches before a bout at the PAL Tournament in Toledo, Ohio. Patricia won her first 4 bouts to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Oct. 2, 2011; Patricia Manuel stretches her jaw before a bout at the PAL Tournament in Toledo, Ohio.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Oct. 2, 2011; Patricia Manuel sits with a towel over her head after losing in the championship bout at the PAL Tournament in Toledo, Ohio.

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