- Last Updated: 4:29 AM, October 5, 2012
- Posted: 12:33 AM, October 5, 2012
Orlando Cruz, a top-ranked featherweight from Puerto Rico, has announced that he is “a proud gay man,” making him the first openly gay fighter in boxing history.
Cruz issued a press release late Wednesday night confirming his sexual orientation.
“Being in the closet is the most horrible thing a human being can endure,” Cruz said yesterday. “Imagine living in a barrel with just three holes to peek out. I’m free now.”
Cruz (18-2-1, 9 KOs) was on the same Puerto Rican 2000 Olympic team as multi-world champions Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon. He made his professional debut on Dec. 15, 2000. His next fight is scheduled for Oct. 19 in Kissimmee, Fla., where he will defend his WBO NABO title against Jorge Pazos. A win against Pazos could position Cruz for a world title shot.
Cruz, 31, said the initial reaction from his peers has been positive.
“Actually the support has been overwhelming from the boxing community,” he said. “I got support publicly from my Olympic stable mate Miguel Cotto and [singer] Ricky Martin. The World Boxing Organization [WBO] has supported me 100 percent; my promoter All Star Boxing as well.”
Cruz said coming out has been a relief.
“I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself,” he 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.”Follow @NYPostsports