Featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz says he’s gay
San Juan, Puerto Rico (4E Sports) – Tired of hiding his sexuality, Puerto Rican featherweight contender Orlando Cruz publicly said he’s gay, becoming the first active professional boxer to do so in history.
The 31-year-old Cruz, a 2000 Puerto Rican Olympian, said he’s a “proud gay man” two weeks before he squares off with Jorge Pazos (20-4, 13 KOs) on Oct. 19 for the World Boxing Organization Latino featherweight belt in Kissimmee, Florida.
“I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself,” Cruz said. “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.”
Cruz, who turned pro in December 2000, has an 18-2-1 record with nine knockouts. He lost back-to-back fights in 2009 and 2010 via knockouts to Cornelius Lock in the fifth round and to Daniel Ponce De Leon in the third round in a world title fight eliminator.
Cruz bounced back and won his last two fights against Alejandro Delgado and Michael Franco via knockouts to arrange a title showdown against Pazos.
In his statement, Cruz said he wants people to see him for his boxing skills, character and sportsmanship and not for his sexuality.
“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,” he said.
“I want to thank my family, especially my mom, who’s my inspiration and my best reason to continue to live and my brother and my sister. I want to thank my friends for their love and support. And I also want to thank my team for believing in me and being so supportive not only in this decision, but throughout my career. I am and will always be a proud Puerto Rican gay man,” added Cruz.