Orlando Cruz, thefirst openly gay boxer, comes out fighting

Orlando Cruz's revelation hailed by campaigners and former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas

A former Olympic boxer and one of the top-ranked fighters in the world has made history by becoming the first openly gay man in the sport's history.

Orlando Cruz, a professional boxer from Puerto Rico with more than two decades in the sport, described himself as "a proud gay man" as he went public with his sexuality for the first time.

"I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself," the 31-year-old announced in a press release. "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."

Cruz is ranked number four in the world in the featherweight division by the World Boxing Organisation, and was part of the Puerto Rico Olympic boxing team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

His announcement was hailed by gay rights campaigners yesterday, who said the fighter's decision to come out as a gay man could encourage more men in the boxing world, and beyond, to do the same. "It is absolutely fantastic that Orlando has taken the step to become the first openly gay boxer," said Richard Lane, a spokesman for Stonewall. "It is vital that there are positive role models in sport for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. This can only be a good step forward for fans of boxing and other sports."

Aris Pina, a boxing historian, said Cruz's revelation would also have a positive impact on the Latino community. "It takes a lot of courage to announce you're a proud openly gay Puerto Rican man, especially within the Latin community where men are very masculine, and within the homophobic world of boxing," he told Fox News.

Welsh Rugby legend Gareth Thomas, who became the first openly gay professional rugby union player in 2009, told The Independent: "The bravery he has shown sets a great example to others. It's great to see someone else doing it. I do believe we are coming to a point where professional sports people need not be afraid anymore."

From the closet: Gay sport stars

Gareth Thomas

The captain of the Welsh rugby team and formerly its most-capped international, Thomas became the first openly gay professional rugby union player when he went public with his sexuality in 2009.

Justin Fashanu

A top-flight footballer between 1978 and 1997, he became the first and only English professional to be openly homosexual. He committed suicide in 1998 after a 17-year-old claimed to US police that Fashanu had sexually assaulted him, a claim he denied in a suicide note.

Martina Navratilova

Considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, she came out in 1981, shortly after becoming a US citizen. Navratilova was in her prime when she went public, and has since been an outspoken activists for gay rights.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable