Skip to main content

Katia Bissonnette from Quebec, walked away from her chance to be an amateur champion when at the last minute she was informed she’d be fighting a transgender opponent.Mauricio Sulaimán praised her for having the courage and determination to protect her health and women’s boxing.We thank WBC France, Samuel DeCubber for the interview.

Here is her story:Sam: Hello! First of all, I’m delighted to do this interview with you.can you please introduce yourself?Katia: I live in Saint Louis, in Quebec. I started boxing at 34. I have never been interested in sports. I had a more “drug and alcohol addiction” life. It was the school (of psychology) that kept me on my feet. When I stopped using and to go to school and got my doctorate, after that I found myself with a void. It was as if I was ready to die. The pandemic (Covid19) arrived and it allowed me to think, to find what I invest myself in. And that’s how I discovered the boxing at 34 (laughs).

Sam: This was your cure! The words you say to me are strong… What made you decide boxing ?Katia: I actually watched the Rocky film series. And then my Youtube is running all the time and when it talked about boxing, I felt a curiosity within me. I’m interested, I was on the lookout for that. I was bored and had nothing left (during the pandemic). The more I watch boxing the more interested I was in it, the more emotions I felt. And that attracted me. During the 6 last months of the pandemic, I started training and thinking about how to be ready for my first boxing class. When I stopped using (drugs and cigarettes), I was overweight. There were lots of things wrong with me. Lifestyle. Boxing gave me all this structure. Today I can’t no longer live without boxing. Everything is linked to that now, the quality of my sleep, my diet, my schedule, goals. My whole life is now fulfilled thanks to boxing.

With young people who are doing sports studies who are in secondary school, I set up courses, training for them. Boxing is very mental. They say it’s 70% mental and 30% physical. But no one talks about this 70%, what they include,… I have tried to dissect that thanks to my studies and training. Then yes, I will probably continue to invest in this.

Sam: The WBC, by contacting you, is also giving you a voice. Maybe it’s an opportunity to collaborate later with the WBC. Mauricio, our president, congratulated you for not fighting. He showed you his support, and that of the WBC, publicly. It’s huge to have the world president telling you publicly “I agree with your decision and I support you 100%”. It’s a true political statement. It’s strong stuff. If he hadn’t heard of your adventure, perhaps there would not have been this affirmation which will change Boxing around the world. What you inspired them to do was to say that “that It’s not correct. We created a table and it goes like this, like that,…” To  protect people. And he (Mauricio) didn’t stop congratulating you on your decision and repeat that he supported you. That is to say, if you want to launch program in Canada, Mauricio Sulaiman, World President of the WBC, you will support.Katia: I have only known boxing for 2 years and I don’t really realize the magnitude of it all.

– Sam: So back to boxing , you join this gym and you decide to prepare for your first fight correct ?– Katie: Yes. But in this gym after reflection, I realized that they didn’t take me seriously precisely because I was 34. And then, probably, because I was a woman, too. It’s unfortunate because the gym was really near my house. And then I decided to change city to go boxing and I really well done. In the club where I am now, it is all volunteers and the culture (of boxing) is different. When I changed clubs, I really realized that boxing and the club were a great place to build yourself and build things. Last July, I had my first fight with this new club.
– Sam: And then, what happened during this first fight?– Katia: It was a demo and it went very well. I was able to know my fears and work on it. And then, I had another one in Rimouski in November, which I won in 1 minute. I was really happy.
– Sam: Congratulations!– Katia: I always train. And my goal of winning a fight has been achieved.
– Sam: Yes, you had your fight and your victory. In addition, by stoppage of the referee. It’s beautiful, well done. So, when exactly did the fight you refused to do take place?– Katia: It was October 28.

– Sam: So, it’s very recent. Tell me about your day. You don’t know anything until when you show up there?
– Katia: Yes, that’s it. The boxers had two weeks to register for the Golden Gloves. And on the evening registrations closed, there was no one registered in my category. So, I told myself that I would not go to the Golden Gloves. And the Wednesday before on Golden Gloves weekend, I go to my club and I am told that the Federation of Boxe Québécoise finally found someone for me. So, on Friday morning, I’m going with the team to a different city 4 hours drive. There are certain boxers who do their fight. And I was waiting for  Saturday. Come Saturday, and I was ready to go get the victory. I was directly in the final since there were only two of us. About an hour before the fight, I was in gear and I was going to warm up. And my coach told me “i have to that I speak to you.”

During the trip, I talked about the subject of trans or non-trans people. binaries. And we wondered how it was going to happen. My 75 year old coach told me that he had never seen this in his life and that it will not happen. And it happened with me, next day… What shocked me was that there was no free consent and enlightened from others. I found out by chance. It was a coach from another club who informed mine and tell him “Mia wasn’t Mia all the time in life.» My coach then looked online and learned that this person came from Australia and that she has lived in Quebec for 1 and a half years. And in Australia, he was a man and he was doing boxing. When he arrives in Quebec, he didn’t speak French and he says he has zero fights boxing as a woman.

Katia Bissonnette posing with a WBC medal

– Sam: Even if as a man, this person had not had any boxing matches, Mauricio confirms that the physical differences are too great, that the impact ofcreating such diversity in boxing fights would be too hard to calculate. The idea is just to protect people.
– Katia: There is the institution of biological women who contacted me and they wanted me to sue the Quebec federation for negligence. They sent me a study very interesting and reliable: for equal weight, man’s striking force is 63% more stronger than that of women.
– Sam: So you hear this “news”, and immediately your coach takes the decision not to fight? Or is it you? Or both ?– Katia: He told me he let me make the decision. I was really in shock and enraged. I told myself that when in doubt, I should abstain. And then I didn’t want it create a precedent. In the sense that if I accept this fight and this situation reproduced for another woman, she would feel obliged or she could be forced to accept.
– Sam:
Did you announce it to the organizers?– Katia: I told my coaches, who told the organization. They supported my decision. Then I left. I was speaking loudly and I was frustrated. When I came back, my coaches told me that they had spoken to the Fédération Québécoise. And this last knew that my opponent was trans, and that she had chosen the best referee for this fight.
– Sam: Indeed, there is no link…– Katia: That’s it. It could be a well-placed punch and I could be seriously hurt.
– Sam: Has the federation apologized?– Katia: They did nothing, they avoided the subject. What we understand is that Mia, the trans, he just had to check the “woman” box to be part of the women’s group. HAS At the weigh-in, people noticed that he had a chest full of hair like a man. There was no medical test more than me or the other boxers. It was just to tick a box. Also, the federation had not even put its name during the Golden Gloves registration period. As if they wanted to hide the information, and we cannot find out about him. It’s serious…

– Katia: i want to specify that it is really a question of security and not a question of agreeing or not with this ideology.– Sam: We completely agree with you. Everyone must be able to practice boxing, but in the best possible conditions and that it does not put a person in danger. You’re not alone. And they want to reward you for the courageous action you took. That proves that we are in the right direction. Perhaps during round tables, trans people can come and express themselves and find solutions together, common decisions so that everyone is happy. But it is certain that we can’t mix trans people with other people, it’s too dangerous.
– Katia: Do you think I can contact Jill Diamond?– Sam: Yes of course, you can contact Jill She is really great and committed, she wants to help. We are happy that no one is hurt. And some, we try to seek solutions common to all, to progress together.
– Sam: Thank you again Katia for sharing your story.– Katia: Thank you very much, looking forward to it!

Katia Bissonnette with her fist up posing for the camera with her WBC t-shirt and medal.

Leave a Reply