The Champion of Courage

“If you lead, lead with purpose. Lead with your integrity. This is what you stand for. You’re being vulnerable. Other people will see that and will probably have more trust in you because if you’re not showing who you are, you’re hiding who you are in some form.”

Martin Stark


LGBTQI+ participate in sport at half the rate of the wider community but are at least five times more likely to attempt suicide. It may surprise you to learn that 80% of all people have witnessed homophobia in sport, 50% of all LGBTQI+ Americans have been insulted or abused when playing, watching, or talking about sport and 90% of the LGBTQI+ community think homophobia is a problem in sport.


Martin Stark has spent 15 years working in technology procurement, negotiating big technology and outsourcing contracts. He is also a keynote speaker who talks about courage and inclusion; helping people in organizations to enhance culture as a habit. He is using this experience to build a solid team and group of allies to help change these stats. Martin has a very strong and purposeful vision which is to disrupt homophobia, transphobia and hatred in sport. This is the driving force behind his current mission which is organizing the world’s first LGBTQI+ boxing competition – the World Gay Boxing Championship.


The world’s first World Gay Boxing Championship are being held from 18th to the 22nd of February 2023, at the WINX Stand at The Australian Turf Club in Randwick, with a maximum of 200 participants. His dedication is certainly gathering momentum as he has asked for and received statements of support from the president of the World Boxing Council, World Boxing Association, International Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization. He has also had wonderful support from government MPs with letters of support from James Griffin, the state MP for Manly, Zali Steggall, Martin’s local MP and Alex Greenwich, a state MP for Sydney.


Have you read: Is a Culture of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Important? with Erica Johnson


There are three words tattooed on Martin’s back which are the driving force guiding him as he sets out to disrupt homophobia and transphobia through inclusion and participation. They are also a direct representation of how Martin can survive two induced comas as well as a tracheotomy – but that’s a whole other story…


Those who are following along via the TCoT YouTube channel will have seen Martin do something he has never done during a podcast interview and that is, to take his shirt off (in order to show not tell). Click here if you are keen to see what these words are.


Have you read: Are you sick, Fat & Tired – But Don’t Know It? with Dr Pat Boulogne


Building relationships has been an important element throughout Martin’s career and he has named one of the strategies he uses connect and set. Connect means that in order for you to really understand something, it is important to set the scene and make sure people are ready to really hear both what you want to say and what the conversation is going to be about. Conversations, they ebb and they flow, but setting the scene allows everybody to be captivated to listen.


“Opening up some of these minds, connecting, setting the scene to have really engaging, impactful conversation because most people avoid the discomfort. They don’t want to hear it. If I get you in a place where you feel your empathy and understanding, you feel you relate to something, you’re more likely to get on board, be an ally, and try to make a difference” he says.


Making a difference involves showing respect, kindness, courtesy and dignity. When you hear something, say something. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from transferring privilege and showing empathy. So today we are asking The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) Podcast community, “Will you make a deliberate decision to be part of the solution, not part of the problem?” Click here to learn how.


The complete interview can be listened to here, on audio platforms, or watched here, on The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) YouTube channel.


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