In a sport where people are trying to punch you in the face, you must give credit to Orlando Cruz for coming out as the first openly gay active professional boxer.
Cruz is not some tomato can journeyman or a guy who is about to retire. He is a fringe contender in the featherweight division. At age 31 and with a record of 18-2-1, he definitely has a few good years left ahead of him. He is headlining a card that will be televised on Telemundo later this month for example. That is what makes his announcement that much more remarkable.
“I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always brings 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.”
In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be news. Orlando Cruz is gay. So what. But we are talking about boxing here and it’s not the most progressive sport at times, and neither are many of its fans. Reaction to the announcement by those in the boxing world has been positive in the media but who knows how people really feel behind the scenes?
Boxing is not in the spotlight like the MLB, NFL, or NBA. Though Orlando Cruz is a fringe contender, you’ve probably never heard of him before reading this article. The fact that a featherweight from Puerto Rico had the guts to become the first openly gay active professional in these four sports is a surprise and a shame on the MLB, NFL, and NBA. The fact that this story still matters is a shame on the rest of us.