Orlando Cruz, First Openly Gay Male Pro Boxer, Breaks A Boxing Barrier

In the Wild West that is the boxing community, and boxing alone, calling someone a “faggot” hardly inspires even the blink of an eye; in fact, some praise such behavior as the sport commendably persisting as a final bastion for politically incorrect high jinks. By contrast, when a baseball player writes, in eye black, the word “maricon,” it’s an international scandal.

So it is no small matter that featherweight Orlando Cruz has announced he is and always has been a “proud gay man.” Cruz is not a major figure in boxing, although he is not an unknown, either. His biggest stage was on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view in 2009, where he waged a fan-friendly war with Cornelius Lock in a losing effort. He also appeared on HBO Plus losing to Daniel Ponce De Leon in his next fight, and he was a member of the Puerto-Rican Olympic team that included potential future Hall of Famers Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon.

This isn’t like Frank Ocean declaring that he has had sexual experiences with a man, which has opened the floodgates of support from a notoriously homophobic hip-hop community, because Ocean is a big star in that arena. But it is a crack, an opening, for attitudes to change, that a boxer with any name recognition (because perhaps there are other openly gay pro boxers out there who are more obscure) has come forward. The next step would be him getting a big fight despite his sexuality. Even though ranked highly by a belt sanctioning organization, he hasn’t done anything to deserve a big fight soon, but if he does burnish his resume enough to earn one, fingers crossed that he doesn’t get turned down because he is gay.

Below is a terrific knockout from Cruz. It strikes a blow, literally and figuratively, against the notion that there’s some contradiction between homosexuality and traditionally masculine behaviors. Knocking people out like that is at least KIND OF manly.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.