History has been made today in the boxing world, as featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz has come out as a “proud gay man.”
The Puerto Rican native, 31, told USA Today: “I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself. 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.”
He then went on to note, “I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”
A former Olympian who competed for Puerto Rico at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Cruz has been fighting professionally since December 2000. His next fight is scheduled for Oct. 19 in Kissimmee, Fla., but he will reportedly sit down for an exclusive Telemundo interview before that.
A number of publications have noted that while Cruz is not the first gay man to fight professional, his revelation makes him the first to speak openly about it while being active in the sport. As USA Today noted, Emile Griffith, a welterweight and middleweight champion who fought in the ’50s and ’60s, told Sports Illustrated he was bisexual years after his athletic career had ended.
Among those to praise Cruz’s decision was Bleacher Report columnist Michael Walters. “For Cruz to come out while still actively participating in what has to be considered one of, if not the, most macho sports is truly brave,” Walters wrote.