ORLANDO-CRUZ

Out & Proud. Orlando Cruz announces that he is “proud gay man” making him the first openly gay professional boxer. In a statement he said: 

“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. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”

Cruz, a former Olympian and current #4 WBO featherweight, joins a growing list of openly gay athletes.

We celebrate Orlando Cruz today for Spirit Month!

The 2000 Olympic Games were pivotal for boxer Orlando Cruz. After representing Puerto Rico in the games, Cruz launched his professional boxing career. He won a world featherweight title and went nine years without a defeat.

The homophobia that Cruz experienced growing up in Puerto Rico made it difficult for him to accept his sexuality, especially in the world of boxing machismo. Cruz’s internal conflict continued as rumors spread among boxing fans. This tension culminated during his 2008 world title fight. “The spectators bad-mouthed me; they called me a faggot,” Cruz said. “That’s when I realized that something had to change.”

Cruz spent the next few years meeting with a psychologist to work through coming out publicly. In 2012 Cruz became the first professional boxer to come out during his career and one of the first professional athletes to come out while still active. Soon after, he won a major fight wearing rainbow shorts. A year later he married his boyfriend.

In 2013 the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame made Cruz an inaugural inductee. He stated, “I want kids to know that you can be whoever you want to be, including a professional boxer.”

“I am proud to be Puerto Rican, just like I am proud to be a gay man. But I was sad and angry a long time because there are two doors to death over this one issue. There is suicidal death – when a gay man cannot stand being unaccepted and takes his own life. And there is homophobic murder. In both these situations I want to be a force for change.”

- Orlando Cruz

Weighing in with flare
  • Orlando Cruz Professional Boxer
  • Orlando Cruz is a Puerto Rican professional boxer. As an amateur, Cruz represented Puerto Rico at the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia. Cruz made his professional debut on December 15, 2000, against Alfredo Valdez in Puerto Rico. Wikipedia
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Evander Holyfield compares being gay to being disabled

Former heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield made a series of anti-gay comments in the “UK Celebrity Big Brother” house recently, and he shows no signs of apologizing. 

He was speaking to reality star Luisa Zissman, who was talking about how it would be good for a gay boxing star to come out publicly (she obviously hadn’t heard of Orlando Cruz coming out in 2012). Holyfield had some harsh words in response.

“What would be good about it?” he asked. “That ain’t normal.”

After saying that the Bible spells out what’s wrong and what’s right, Holyfield compared being gay to having a handicap that could be fixed.

“Only thing I’m trying to tell you… You know how handicapped people are born? You can’t say ‘cause they were born that way you can’t move that,” he said. Adding, “It is a choice. Come on, that ain’t the way nobody is made… You ain’t gay unless you sleeping with the opposite sex.”

Nope nope nope nope nope. So much wrong with this ableist, homophobic bullshit. Absolutely not. 

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Orlando Cruz: Boxing’s Gay Superstar

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. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.
—  Orlando Cruz comes out as gay, becomes the first openly gay man in boxing.
Orlando Cruz Destroys Michael Franco

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Puerto Rican featherweight Orlando Cruz (right) rebounded from back-to-back losses by knocking previously unbeaten prospect Michael “Lil Warrior” Franco (left) out cold just before the end of the first round in Kissimmee, Fla. on Telemundo Friday night.

A native of Riverside, Calif., Franco advances with his head forward and his hands low, a recipe for disaster inside the ring. He stands too upright, leaving him wide open for counters, and mostly whiffed with his sloppy left hook. Franco ate a few clean shots early on before taking a knockdown that looked more from a push by Cruz than a punch. After returning to his feet Franco went after Cruz with more lead left hooks that the southpaw was content to dance away from.

Cruz’s punches, in contrast, were shorter, crisper and more accurate. The veteran realized early his opponent was out of his depth and picked his spots, landing several combos flush on Franco’s grill. The end came just before the bell as Franco once again walked forward with his chin exposed and Cruz responded with a straight left-right hook combination to the chin that sent the Californian to the canvas face-first. The right appeared to do the real damage. Kudos to Cruz, fighting for the first time since losing to Daniel Ponce de Leon last February.

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“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. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”  Orlando Cruz.  

Five things about Orlando Cruz:  1: He represented Puerto Rico in the 2000 Olympics, 2: Made his pro debut in December 2000, 3: Has won 7 Gold Medals, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze in various international tournaments, 4: Is the #4 ranked featherweight in the World, 5: He’s left-handed.