Orlando Cruz is planning to make his mark as boxing’s first openly gay fighter, wearing pink gloves and rainbow shorts for an upcoming title fight.
Cruz will face Orlando Salido at the Thomas & Mack Center for the vacant WBO featherweight championship, and has a plan for a big statement in the ring. Cruz’s pink gloves will support Breast Cancer Awareness month and rainbow shorts will support gay rights.
It won’t be an easy fight. While Cruz sports a 20-2-1 record with 10 knockouts, Salido is 39-12-2 record with 27 knockouts.Cruz came out last year, and under the pressure of the national spotlight won his next fight.
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 win over Jorge Pazos. “And I won.”
Cruz also said he was heartened by the outpouring of support he found after coming out.
“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.
Cruz is part of a wave of professional athletes to come out in recent years. Overseas a number of European athletes have come out as gay, and in American professional sports many more appear to be on the way. A group of NFL players are reportedly prepared to come out together sometime in the near future, and earlier this year NBA player Jason Collins came out in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
Orlando Cruz is engaged to boyfriend Jose Manuel, with plans to marry in November.