The Pugilist

Boxing has first openly gay competitor

The Pugilist

View photo

.

Orlando Cruz

A Puerto Rican featherweight has publicly announced he is homosexual, making him the first openly gay active boxer in history.

Orlando Cruz, 18-2-1 in 21 fights, is ranked as the world's number four at 126lbs by the WBO and was part of the Puerto Rico Olympic boxing team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics along with Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon.

In a press release, the 31-year-old Cruz 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 has been boxing since he was seven and boasted an amateur record of 178-11, taking in seven national titles in his homeland and seven international gold medals.

He turned pro shortly after the Sydney Games and won his first professional fight on December 15 2000 against Alfredo Valdez.

His highest profile bouts came with the end of his unbeaten record with back-to-back defeats against Cornelius Lock and Daniel Ponce De Leon in 2009 and 2010, the former battle taking place on the undercard of Mayweather-Marquez.

Cruz is due to further discuss his announcement and its potential ramifications in a sit-down televised interview next week.

He has won his last two fights since being stopped by Lock and De Leon and defends his WBO NABO title against Jorge Pazos on October 19 in Kissimmee.

Boxing's overly-masculine nature and the bloodthirsty stereotype stuck to its fanbase are regarded as the main reasons no active boxer before Cruz has 'come out of the closet' and made their homosexuality public, despite the law of averages suggesting that more fighters are gay.

Time will tell if this will be a first which opens the proverbial floodgates to any active boxers who are homosexual but have kept their private life as just that, private.

While not a top-line competitor, Cruz throughout his career has maintained a win percentage and landed knockouts that in future should help put the dated stigma around homosexuality in fighting sports out for the count once and for all.