BY DANIELA COSTA – Orlando Cruz, 31, has become the first professional boxer to come out as gay during his fighting career.
The Puerto Rican featherweight described himself on Oct 3 as a “proud gay man.”
The World Boxing Organization (WBO) currently ranks Cruz fourth in his weight class.
“I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and, as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself,” says Cruz, quoted in USA Today.
The athlete also wants to be a role model for kids interested in boxing as a sport and career.
Cruz started boxing at age seven. He made his professional debut in 2000 and was a member of the 2000 Puerto Rican Olympic Team in Sydney. In March 2008, he won a world title.
“I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican,” Cruz says. “I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”
Cruz’s next fight is on Oct 19 against Jorge Pazos. He will be defending his WBO North American Boxing Organization title. If he wins, he could be in line for a major title shot.
Emile Griffith, a welterweight and middleweight champion who fought in the 1950s and 1960s, came out as bisexual after ending his career.