Gay Boxer? Orlando Cruz Comes OutWritten by Lee Cleveland
Orlando Cruz (18-2-1, 9 KOs), a featherweight from San Juan, Puerto Rico who is ranked No. 4 in the division by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), recently stated he's "a proud gay man."
Is Cruz the first openly gay, high-level boxer in history?
In the macho, rugged sport of boxing, homosexuality, at least with regards to the sport's male participants, is a topic that's seldom mentioned sans a few insulting barbs between rival fighters.
Orlando Cruz began boxing at age of 7 and eventually established himself as one of the top amateurs in Puerto Rico before representing that country at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, boxing as a Bantamweight (54 kg).
Now 31, Cruz has fought as a pro for 12 years.
In 2008, he won a fringe world title, decisioning Carlos Guevara for the IBA strap before suffering back-to-back knockout loses to Cornelius Lock and Daniel Ponce De Leon in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
But Orlando Cruz bounced back, winning two straight since the loss to Ponce de Leon. And on October 19, he'll take on Jorge Pazos 20-4, 13 KO for the WBO Latino featherweight title.
Will his openness about his sexuality help or hurt Cruz?
One thing is for certain - He's very unique and if he's successful, he'll likely be a household name as a result of his declaration alone.
Perhaps Orlando Cruz will get more gays interested in boxing - as fans and participants.
"I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself," said Cruz. "I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man."
"I don't want to hide any of my identities," he said. "I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always brings his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship. But I also want kids who suffer from bullying to know that you can be whoever you want to be in life, including a professional boxer, that anything is possible and that who you are or whom you love should not be impediment to achieving anything in life."
Telemundo's Jessi Losada will interview Orlando Cruz in an exclusive tell-all that will be broadcast next week.
What do you think about Orlando Cruz?
Orlando Cruz KO 5 Leonilo Miranda