Openly Gay Fighter Orlando Cruz Heads Back Into Ring on Friday

Orlando Cruz, the first fighter in the history of the sport to come out during the height of his career, will fight again on Friday March 15 against Mexican boxer Aalan Martinez at 11:35 PM ET. The face-off between Cruz and Martinez will be telecast on Telemundo.

Cruz came out last October then went on to win his first fight that same month. In interviews before the fight, Cruz discussed the sense of happiness he felt speaking honestly about his life and his sexual orientation. He's also spoken out against bullying. The interview in which he came out, by Jessi Losada of Telemundo's "Titulares" is nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. He received congratulatory messages from fellow Puerto Rican Ricky Martin, boxer Miguel Cotto, and many others. Cruz said he's felt supported by boxing fans and his community back home.

Cruz, 31, told the Advocate he started boxing when he was 7 years old. “I was taunted and bullied because I was little,” recalled Cruz. “And because they thought I was gay." He was often called anti-gay names and fought back so hard, he was in constant trouble with school administrators which prompted his parents to get him in the ring as a way to keep him in school. Cruz has an impressive record of 19-2-1, with nine knockouts. He hasn't lost since 2010 and is the World Boxing Organization's number one featherweight.