Puerto Rican featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz has become the first openly gay man in the sport’s history.
The world’s No. 4-ranked featherweight came out as gay on Wednesday. “I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself,” he told sports media.
“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,” Cruz said. “I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”
Cruz, 31, ended his amateur career as a member of the 2000 Puerto Rican Olympic Team in Sydney. His teammates included former world champions Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon.
Cruz debuted as a professional in 2000 and won his first world title in 2008. His next fight is Oct. 19 in Kissimmee, Fla., when he will defend his WBO NABO title against Jorge Pazos. A win could set him up for a major title shot.
Emile Griffith, 74, a welterweight and middleweight champion, came out after his career ended, telling Sports Illustrated that he was bisexual.