Orlando Cruz: Boxer Wins First Bout Since Coming Out As Gay
Orlando Cruz has his first boxing win after coming out as gay earlier this month, winning a unanimous decision over Jorge Pazos.
The win was a relief for Orlando Cruz, whose personal life suddenly became the story instead of his fighting.
“That was my moment, my opportunity, my event,” Cruz told The Association Press after the bout, his mother, Dominga Torres-Rivera, seated beside him. “And I won.”
Since coming out in early October, Cruz said he has been touched with the outpouring of support he’s seen. That was on display at the Kissimmee Center, the site of his latest win.
“I was very happy that they respect me. That’s what I want — them to see me as a boxer, as an athlete and as a man in every sense of the word,” he said.
Orlando Cruz is the first openly gay athlete in men’s major sports. In his bout against Pazos, Cruz was in control most of the night, negating his opponents’ longer reach with his quick feet.
“He’s a boxer who moves too much, he knows how to box and he has good legs,” Pazos said. “I couldn’t get him.”
Cruz said he hopes the win will put him on a path toward the WBO title.
“This fight’s going to open my door for a world title fight,” Orlando Cruz said. “That’s my dream, my mom’s dream, my community’s dream and my team’s.”
The attention, which expanded beyond the normally insular world of boxing to publications like Radar Online, hasn’t bothered Cruz at all.
“I’m only one person,” Orlando Cruz said. “I feel happy with where I am. I’m free. I’m more at peace.”