Boxer who admitted being gay becomes world champion
Boxer who admitted being gay becomes world champion.Deeply embedded in two worlds — boxing and Puerto Rico — that are founded in machismo, Cruz has also become a gay icon to thousands.
On Saturday, Cruz has the chance to create history — should he beat Britain’s Terry Flanagan for the WBO lightweight title, the 35-year-old will become the first ever openly gay world champion.
Boxing, like many other sports, is yet to fully open its arms to the idea of a gay athlete, something Cruz has unsurprisingly experienced first-hand.
“I don’t care if they say, ‘Orlando Cruz is gay. Faggot.’ I don’t care,” he defiantly tells CNN. ” look at my family when I walk in the ring. I look at my mum, sister, I look at my brother.
“I don’t care, you know, I’m just focused on my family.”
With so few openly gay, active professional athletes across all sports, Cruz is aware what the result of the fight will mean to those who look up to him.
“The support of the gay community, in Puerto Rico, New York and different nationalities, is very important,” he says.
“I’m happy for all the support, it’s brilliant. I want to win the title for the LGBT community and for my island. I don’t feel any pressure; I’m just concentrated for my big fight.”
Despite suffering a shuddering seventh-round knockout at the hands of favored Mexican fighter Orlando Salido, Cruz vehemently insists this time will be different.
“Salido was the best teacher,” Cruz says philosophically. “He is a great boxer and a great champion. I respect him and I respect his team, but right now Orlando is different to a couple of years ago.
“Orlando Cruz is angrier, more dedicated, more focused on the plan and is going to be victorious.”
Cruz came out to his family and a psychologist long before publicly announcing he was gay in 2012.
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