Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz says he came out because he wants to become the first openly gay world champion.
The 31-year-old sports star has now spoken out about his coming out experience, admitting he had to consult a psychologist because he was so ‘scared and nervous’ about the decision.
‘My mum is my best friend and is the first person I told,’ Cruz told the BBC.
‘She said "Don’t worry, Orlando, I’ll support you". My father was homophobic but now he is happy with my decision. And the reaction in Puerto Rico has been good.’
‘I would tell anyone in a similar position to talk to your family and friends, get professional help and be happy.’
Cruz added that he came out because he wanted to become the first openly gay boxing world champion.
He began boxing at age seven, when his amateur career peaked in his selection to the 2000 Puerto Rican Olympic Team in Sydney.
Cruz debuted as a professional in 2000 and won his first minor world title in 2008.
American Emile Griffith, a middleweight world champion who fought in the 50s and 60s, came out as bisexual after his career had ended.
And in the UK, Charles ‘Pink Pounder’ Jones became the first openly gay man to compete in white-collar boxing, an alternative to the amateur and professional sport where office workers train for special events.
Cruz’s next fight will be on 19 October, when he will defend his WBO North American Boxing Organization title against Mexican Jorge Pazos.