By Sarah Francis
A teen athlete has bravely revealed how his “man boobs” are hindering his career as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter.
Jeremiah Mastrogiacomo, 19, from Cape Coral, Florida, USA, has suffered from gynecomastia – male breast enlargement – since he was 13-years-old.
The aspiring athlete hoped to reduce the size of his chest by losing weight, two years ago.
He slimmed from 254lbs (17.15 st) at 5,11ft tall, to 180lbs (12st) at 6,1ft, but was still haunted by ‘swaying’ and ‘moving’ breast tissue.
The candid teen claims gynecomastia affects his relationships and self-image, as well as his fighting performance.
Now he hopes to raise money for vaser liposuction to have the enlarged gland removed and shares his experience: @jeremiahmastrogiacomo.
Jeremiah, who trains five hours a day, five days a week, said: “I look good with t-shirt but when I take my t-shirt off it’s noticeable.
“The doctors think that at puberty there was an imbalance of hormones and my body produced more oestrogen than testosterone.
“In that period of time, the gland was able to grow and it’s never gone away.
“I can feel them swaying around. It feels like an alien on my body.
“It’s a serious issue for some people and embarrassing.
“But for me, it’s nothing but a hindrance on my top elite level physically performance as an aspiring mixed martial artist so I’ve learned to be a lot more mature when it comes to the topic of gynecomastia.”
Jeremiah, who gained weight at puberty, initially thought his larger chest was due to an unhealthy diet.
He said: “I became overweight from over eating. I was putting away over 5,000 calories a day on carbs, snacks and sugary foods.
“I didn’t realise what I was doing to my body.
“But because I was overweight, no one thought I had gynecomastia, every thought it was just fat on my chest.
“I had insecurities about my body and would bully myself every time I looked in the mirror. I used to tell myself I wasn’t good enough.
“I’ve never had a serious relationships. I never thought someone would want me long term, as a teen it was tough.
“There were limitations like not going to the beach or taking my shirt off.
“I would research gynecomastia online as it was bothering me and I finally went to a surgeon.
“The doctor told me I needed to lose weight before having surgery and that was the turning point, knowing I couldn’t get surgery done until I lost the weight.”
Jeremiah quit carbs and reduced his calorie intake to 1,500, which helped him to slim to 180lbs.
He began working out by doing MMA training and fell in love with the sport.
However, even with his lean, muscular physique, Jeremiah was still plagued by his chest.
The amateur fighter said: “Having a more defined chest has helped the gland to stretch out and it’s not sagging but I can still feel it moving around.
“I do still feel insecure even when people tell me I look great. I’ve grown a body dysmorphia in a way.
“I know longer care what people thing but it mentally brings me back to that 13 year old insecurity.
“Having surgery would be the last part of my transformation.”
Jeremiah is currently raising $9000 (£8324) for vaser liposuction via go fund me in time for his first amateur MMA fight in July.