LGBT+ History Month Six LGBT Sportspeople You Should Know More About

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LGBT+ History Month Six LGBT Sportspeople You Should Know More About

o mark the start of LGBT+ History Month, BBC Sport looks at the lives of six LGBT+ sportspeople who made history in their respective sports, but whose stories may not be as widely known.

From the first known British transgender woman to a Wimbledon champion, an NFL Pro-Bowler and a sprinter who successfully challenged her sport’s governing body.

Here are six LGBT+ sportspeople we think you should know more about.

Alfonso Teofilo Brown, better known as Panama Al Brown, was the first Latin American boxing world champion and is regarded as one of the greatest bantamweights in history.

During his career, Brown won an incredible 59 fights by knockout and was the bantamweight world champion for six years.

Brown was born in 1902 to Afro-Caribbean immigrant parents in Panama. His mother was a cleaner and his father died when Brown was 13 years old. As a teenager, Brown was working as a clerk at the Panama Canal Zone when he saw American soldiers boxing and decided to take up the sport.

Brown turned professional aged 20 and, the following year, won his first fight abroad in New York. He moved to the city, where his rise to the top of his sport was emphatic.

In 1926, after boxing across the USA for three years, Brown fought in Paris for the first time. He enjoyed it so much, he decided to move there.

In 1929, Brown became the first Latin American world champion when he beat Spain’s Gregorio Vidal by a 15-round decision in New York. The victory made him a hero in Panama and he became renowned around Latin America.

Brown also became a popular boxer in Paris and fought in 40 bouts around Europe between 1929 and 1934.

He spent much of his life in the French capital and was reportedly adored by the French because of his ability to speak seven languages and his all-night partying.

He performed in cabaret shows too, and even tap-danced in one that showcased black talent and launched the career of Josephine Baker.

But not everyone loved the Panamanian. Brown was in a relationship with French writer Jean Cocteau, who became his manager, despite knowing little about the sport.

When rumours of Brown’s sexuality spread, people began attending his fights just to jeer or spit at him during ring-walks, and after one fight, he was beaten unconscious by spectators.

All of this on top of the racial discrimination he already faced.

When World War Two began, Brown moved back to New York and tried to find work in cabaret clubs in Harlem, without success.

He began boxing again but was a faded force. In 1942, he was arrested for cocaine use and deported to Panama for a year.

After returning to Harlem, Brown – by now in his late 40s – got by as a sparring partner for aspiring boxers, earning a dollar per round.

Brown died of tuberculosis aged 48 in 1951. He was initially buried in a small grave in Harlem, until some boxing fans raised money to send his remains to Panama.

Dutee Chand, born in 1996, is the third Indian woman to qualify for the 100m at an Olympic Games, was the first Indian to reach a global sprint final – at the World Youths – and has two Asian Games silver medals. She is also the first openly gay athlete to compete for India.

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Chand grew up in Chaka Gopalpur, a poor, rural village in Odisha’s Jajpur district. She came out in 2019 – a year after India’s Supreme Court decriminalised gay sex – and faced public backlash from people in her village, as well as her parents.

Chand’s father told the Times of India his daughter’s relationship was “immoral and unethical”, and she had “destroyed the reputation of [their] village.”

Her mother added: “We belong to a traditional Odia weaver community which does not permit such things. How can we face our relatives and the society?”

During the coronavirus pandemic, Chand spent time distributing food deliveries and sanitary pads to people in her village.

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She is also planning on opening an athletics academy for locals, and told Vogue: “I want another child aspiring to be a runner to run barefoot like me.”

In contrast to being banned from the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Chand was recently announced as one of four ambassadors for the Birmingham 2022 Games’ Pride House.

LGBT+ History Month Six LGBT Sportspeople You Should Know More About

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