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Orlando Cruz becomes first openly gay pro boxer

Orlando Cruz becomes first openly gay pro boxer

A featherweight Puerto Rico boxer has claimed to be the first openly gay man to come out and continue competing in the professional sport’s history.

Orlando Cruz, ranked the number four featherweight by the World Boxing Organization, said: ‘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.’

The 31-year-old sports star 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.