When Puerto Rican featherweight Orlando Cruz enters the ring opposite Jorge Pazos at the Civic Center, Kissimmee, Fla., later this month, he will be making his first public appearance in a fight after having openly admitted that he is gay.
“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,” said Cruz in a statement that serves as a preview to an interview with Telemundo next week.
“I don’t want to hide any of my identities. I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always bring his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship. But I also want kids who suffer from bullying to know that you can be whoever you want to be in life, including a professional boxer, that anything is possible and that who you are or whom you love should not be impediment to achieving anything in life.”
A 31-year-old who represented his country in the 2000 Olympics, Cruz (18-2-1, 9 KOs) has scored two straight knockout victories since being stopped himself in consecutive losses to Cornelius Lock and Daniel Ponce de Leon.
On Oct. 19, Cruz will face Pazos, who is 20-4 with 13 knockouts.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]