I’m From Valparaiso, IN.

by Mark Itell

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

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.

Sharing your story can change someone's life. Interested in learning more?