Professional boxer Orlando Cruz, who represented Puerto Rico at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, acknowledged he is gay.
“I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man,” the reigning WBO NABO featherweight champion said in a statement released Wednesday night.
“I don’t want to hide any of my identities. I want people to look at me for the human being that I am,” said the 31-year-old fighter known as “El fenomeno.”
Expressing gratitude to his family and friends for their support, Cruz said he wants “people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship.”
Cruz, has compiled a record of 18-2-1, including nine knockouts, since turning pro after the 2000 Olympics. His next bout is an Oct. 19 title defense against Mexico’s Jorge Pazos.
The leader of Puerto Rico’s most prominent gay and lesbian organization hailed Cruz’s statement.
“I thank Orlando for his courage in affirming his identity in such a dignified manner. This shows, once again, that we lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people are part of all facets and all environments of our society,” Pedro Julio Serrano said Thursday.
He said he knows Cruz as “a great boxer, as a peerless friend, but even more, as an extraordinary human being.”
“Thank you, Orlando, with all my heart,” Serrano said.