I’m From Valparaiso, IN.

by mark itell

Many people make up this myth that “gay” people aren’t masculine enough to play sports. I have always had this interest in boxing. I went 18 years sparring with men, both gay and straight, learning how to box and do defense, offense, etc…

So finally at the age of 38, I decided it was time to get into the ring and fight. In Los Angeles, I was an extra in a movie when I met a pro ex-kickboxer and stunt man.

He became my first pro boxing trainer. During my year and a half with him, I learned a lot and actually did 2 fights with him in my corner. He moved on because he was going to do a movie and would be away for about a year.

I found other pro trainers and pro boxers that helped train me, spar with me and work my butt off. I train at the famous Wild Card gym in Los Angeles and meet a lot of pro boxers who give me valuable tips and help me be a better boxer.

After about 7 fights, I decided at the age of 45 that I wanted to go pro. I was training at a pro gym which set it all up, and in 6 months I would have my first pro bout. I trained 7 days a week, 3 hours a day, every day.

Well, 2 months away from the fight, I was in a softball tourney. On the first play, in the first inning, against the first batter, the ball was hit to me. I slipped. My body weight, along with the force of me slipping, fell on my hand, which landed on the ball, which broke my hand. That ended two sports for me: Softball of 29 years and boxing of 25 years.

The point is that you should never, ever feel that just because you are gay, you can’t compete in a sport. We are all men and women and just as equal and capable as everyone else.

I have now moved onto training guys in boxing. I presently have two MMA fighters, a 12-year-old girl, and two guys in their 20’s I am training to be pros. Boxing has not left my life and I’m still competing at the amateur level at the age of 46. When you have a passion for something, go after your dream and make it a reality. I did and am proud of what I accomplished.


  1. As someone who responds to “What’s your favorite sport?” with “Sports? What’s that?”, I want to let you know your story is the first story about sports I have enjoyed in a long time.

  2. Kudos to you, Mark! A lot of people would have completely quit the sport (boxing) after the accident. You went on to share your love for the sport and train others with your skills. In my book, that makes you a real champion.

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