World Gay Boxing Championship in Chicago pushes for equality in sports world, competitor says

The gloves are on, and boxers are ready for a knockout this Pride month

ByAnn Pistone and Jason Knowles WLS logo
Friday, June 14, 2024
World Gay Boxing Championship pushes for equality, competitor says
During 2024 Pride month in Chicago, one man says the World Gay Boxing Championship pushes for equality in the sports world.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The gloves are on, and boxers are ready for a knockout this Pride month. The World Gay Boxing Championship is being held in Chicago.

One man says the competition is more than a fight in the ring, but a push for equality in the sports world.

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Jerry Haaser is ready to fight for pride with his dukes up.

"I always planned to go pro in combat sports, so I love it a lot. That's just the dream goal was just to make money and live my life fighting people," Haaser said.

Haaser is practicing at the Tohkon Dojo on the city's Northwest Side for the second World Gay Boxing Championships this month.

"It feels nice to be able to not only compete in an event where they're fine with me being me, they're fine with everybody being them," he said.

This year, the competition is hosted by Strong Hands Gym in Northalsted, an LGBTQ+-owned gym. The championship is for the LGBTQ+ community and allies, making it an inclusive environment for all.

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"It's just nice to open that door for everybody the way it was open for me," said Haaser, who is originally from rural Missouri, and moved to the Chicago area 10 years ago.

He said he still faces criticism for being a gay boxer.

"Especially in MMA and where there's a lot of machismo and, you know, stuff like that masculine energy to it, I'm tall. I'm skinny. I fight at 135 pounds, so I already get viewed as weak and small, and then just any kind of feminine nature I have, puts people in that category before they even see what you can do. I was, of course, a little nervous about getting into combat sports, just because it's combat sports. Someone is gonna hit you, grab you or something, and it's just not easy to open yourself up to that, like the idea of getting hurt," Haaser said.

Haaser said the boxing championship is not only a way to celebrate pride month, but also a way to promote acceptance.

"Pride to me, in general, just means absence of shame. So, Pride month is just, you know, a month we're not gonna be forced to feel ashamed. You're always going to be told, you're too tall, too skinny, too something. So, it's just nice to have, not only a month, but a concept dedicated to being yourself, accepting who you are," he said.

The World Gay Boxing Championship will be held on Thursday, June 20.

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