31 year-old featherweight boxer Orlando Cruz, who represented Puerto Rico at the 2000 Olympic Games and is currently ranked 4th in the world, has come out as gay.
In an interview with USA Today, Cruz 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."
By coming out, Cruz immediately becomes one of the highest-profile athletes to ever be openly gay while competing, especially among men. FightNews.com reports that his next bout will take place later this month at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Kissimmee, Florida, where he will defend his WBO NABO title against Jorge Pazos. If he wins there, FightNews.com says he will be positioned for a world title shot. The website also reports that Cruz is sitting down with Telemundo’s Jessi Losada in an exclusive tell-all that will air next week.
Fellow Puerto Ricans Ricky Martin and Miguel Cotto have come out in support of Orlando Cruz. In an interview with a local radio station, Cotto affirmed that "It must not have been easy for him, but I congratulate him. He'll see that from now on life will be different. It will be much better for him."
Orlando Cruz has become a role model for LGBT Puerto Ricans, athletes, and individuals from all walks of life, by sending the message that you can be true to who you are and stay at the top of your game.