Boxer Orlando Cruz Comes Out, Making Him First Openly Gay Man In The Ring

OrlandoCruzOver two decades since he began boxing, Puerto Rican featherweight fighter Orlando Cruz came out this week, making him the first openly gay, still-competing boxer in the sport's history.(Former fighter Emile Griffith came out as bisexual after he retired.)

"I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself," 31-year old Cruz, who began fighting at the age of 7, according to USA Today.

"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, currently ranked 4th in his division, got his big shot in the ring during the 2000 Olympics, when he represented Puerto Rico in Sydney. The Pugilist offers more details on his career trajectory:

Cruz has been boxing since he was seven and boasted an amateur record
of 178-11, taking in seven national titles in his homeland and seven
international gold medals.

He turned pro shortly after the Sydney Games and won his first professional fight on December 15 2000 against Alfredo Valdez.

His highest profile bouts came with the end of his unbeaten record
with back-to-back defeats against Cornelius Lock and Daniel Ponce De
Leon in 2009 and 2010, the former battle taking place on the undercard
of Mayweather-Marquez.

Cruz's next fight is on October 19th, when he'll defend his WBO NABO against Jorge Pazos. Before that, though, he'll be sitting down for a television interview to discuss his coming out.


  1. jason says

    Usually, it’s female pop singers who claim to be for gay rights. Gay men devote themselves to these women without realizing that they are being used for the purpose of money. These female pop singers actually hinder our rights because they get in the way of gay male progress in the music industry.

    Now, with Chris Kluwe sticking up for us and Orlando Cruz coming out, the narrative is slowly changing. Men – yes, men – are fashioning a new narrative for us. It’s an important time.

  2. Alex Parrish says

    Wow! Just Wow! It’s gotta be tough being out in such a macho sport not to mention the Latino culture. Of course, he must be a tough guy to make it in that sport anyway. Good for him. I don’t follow the sport, but I wish him continued success. Way to go! Orlando!

  3. ratbastard says

    Great. Hopefully more dudes like him will come out. When a guy like Cruz publicly proclaims he’s homosexual, and is proud, that’s a big deal in many ways. The guy’s got cojones.

  4. jason says

    I would say that the boxing world is more gay- and bi-friendly than Hollywood. Hollywood is about faking it. Boxing is about being out there and upfront.

    Any industry that is based on faking – such as Hollywood – is not good for gay rights.

  5. Derrick from Philly says

    This is wonderful, but please Google the name Emile Griffith. Also, look up the documentary about him titled “Ring of Fire.”

  6. George F says

    I love this guy for coming out… In Puerto Rico there is a lot of homophobia-you just have to read the comments on this news today on Primera Hora or El Nuevo Dia (the 2 biggest newspapers on the island) to realize the vitriol many will throw at this guy for coming out…
    Bravo Orlando!

  7. ratbastard says

    No Mr. Ehrenstein, nature blessed me with big balls and I’ve always been afflicted with Skinny White Boy Syndrome.

  8. Hunter says

    My personal trainer, who trained me from an average guy to a totally in-shape guy who competes in a variety of fitness events, is a champion amateur boxer from a rough neighborhood. He’s pro-LGBT equality and in our conversations he has always stressed that inner dedication and smart, consistent training are what makes for athletic success. It simply isn’t about sexual orientation and you can definitely be a fierce competitor as a gay man if you have enough of the the aforementioned two things.

  9. doug says

    Sorry, your reporting is wrong Nong Thoom, was an out Muay Thai boxer and famous champion in Thailand. Thailand held him as a hero, too bad other countries are not this forward thinking. And yes, he was out his whole career.

  10. "The Gay" says

    I certainly hope that they don’t pull on him what they pulled on Tommy Morrison, which ended HIS career…

  11. UFFDA says

    Good for Mr. Cruz. Real good. Now let’s put him in the ring with Little Kiwi who doesn’t have the balls to post his real name on his bragger blog.

    And Ehrenstein what on earth would you know about who’s got’em?

  12. UFFDA says

    Hey, wait a minute, what’s so brave about a guy who can beat up anybody who might call him a faggot? Anyway, he’s tough that’s for sure and that’s good enough.

  13. Gigi says

    Congratulations and thank you Mr. Cruz! If you get to meet Ben Cohen and get your picture taken with him can you please send me a copy? Thanks much!! :)

    @UFFDA re: LITTLEKIWI not using his real name…that’s rich coming from you. LOL!

  14. GregV says

    @Doug: the article doesn’t say that Cruz is the first boxer of any type to overcome personal obstacles. Regarding Nong Toom: She has overcome a lot in order to win in the kickboxing world, to be sure. But she’s not “an out gay male still competing in the ring.” That is what the article is about.

  15. GregV says

    @Gigi: Yes, it is rich. Little Kiwi posted just last week an interview he did with one of Canada’s most well-known news anchors, and she addressed him using his real name… And his face wasn’t even pixilated!

  16. Rick says


    With more role models like this for young gay men to look up to–and with straight men increasingly becoming advocates for the eradication of homophobia, the culture of effeminacy will not be long for this world.

    Bravo, Orlando!

  17. jamal49 says

    @JASON Will you please STFD and STFU already with your pathological misogyny and hatred for the feminine? I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this but you are a Number One First-Class A-Hole.

  18. Derrick from Philly says

    “…the culture of effeminacy will not be long for this world.”

    Yes, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if Orlando Cruz said he loves to go in drag when not in the ring. Anything is possible in this great big diverse Gay world.

  19. Rick says

    “Yes, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if Orlando Cruz said he loves to go in drag when not in the ring.”

    But he won’t, Derrick. He has a MALE identity. Learn from him……

  20. Lucas H says

    There are some really weird comments on this article…
    How about just, congratulations dude that takes courage. And good luck.

  21. I wont grow up says

    Bravo, Orlando. This is a man kids and adults can look up to. It takes amazing courage to do this, especially in any sport, let alone boxing.

  22. ChristopherM says

    News flash everyone: Ratbastard is white! I never could have gleaned that from his normal racist commentary

  23. says

    well done, vanguard! another brother standing up to be counted!

    strength in numbers, yo!

    and folks, thanks for the backup, but ignore UFFDA. the type of troll who pounds his keyboard hatefully with one hand while furiously masturbating with the other.
    but there i am, sugar 😉

    it’s the hallmark of the hater – they can only say it from a place of complete anonymity. their impact is null.

    so, rock on you sexy boxin’ thang!

  24. RK says

    Pity the smuck who calls him a homophobic slur. Way to go Orlando! It is nice to see gay men as role models in all aspects of life. Just need more to come out.

  25. says

    It will come as a massive disappointment to the closet-case trolls, but men like Cruz won’t give a flying f**k about some nonsense projected “culture of effeminacy” – why? because that’s something that exists only in the minds of grown-adults who’ve spent so long being in the closet that they’ve driven themselves batty.

    no Out and proud openly gay men say that s**t or even believe in a….uh…”culture of effeminacy” – that’s solely the calling card of the resentful cowardly homosexual male who still lives each day looking over his shoulder worrying what the straights are saying about them. they’re saying you’re gay. time to stop being upset about it. 😉

  26. Stefan says

    Some really odd comments here about feminine vs. masculine, but I guess that’s typical. A man just came out in a fairly high profile sport, and he is young and proud about his identity. If we praise him because he is “masculine” or because he provides a masculine role model, then we are simply falling back into a paradigm that leads to exclusion, segregation, and discrimination. What message do you think your comments send to the boy who hasn’t figured out how to live up to your subjective “masculine” ideal? Those who are our heterosexual allies do not stand by us simply because of some male-male kinship–they stand by us because they recognize our common humanity, regardless of how we act or talk. Conversely, those who hate or fear us could care less that whether we act “like real men.” To them, Rick (and maybe Jason), we’re all just f*ggots.

  27. says

    And Stefan, they’re comments from people living closeted existences. that’s the projected anger – the “type” of gay men those cowards denigrate are leading out and open lives – and that’s a terrible emasculation to the self-professed (yet anonymous) ‘masculine gay men’ who don’t have the orbs to live with the same fearlessness.

  28. Stefan says

    @Littlekiwi–Just watched your interview link. Nice presentation. The few times I’ve watched Canadian television (we get it here in Michigan) I feel like I’ve only seen very civilized discussion of issues–even those that are “hot button topics” here in the U.S. I never see a Tony Perkins type, for example. Are my anecdotal experiences pretty consistent across the board?

  29. says

    when it comes to official news programming – yes. we dont’ have a “fox news” up here. we have a set standard of what is allowed to be broadcast as “news” and it pretty much means you gotta keep it to, you know, NEWS.

    there’s been a push for a “fox news North” type of deal, but it’s been met with complete derision up in canadialand. we’ve seen what happens when unfounded opinions get to be passed off as “news” and we’re not too keen on it. and thanks!

  30. Rick says

    “What message do you think your comments send to the boy who hasn’t figured out how to live up to your subjective “masculine” ideal?”

    The message it sends him is that he just needs to make more of an effort to rid himself of the bad influences that have tried to convince him that his sexuality makes him something less than a man and that he therefore needs to behave in a less than masculine way.

    That he needs to find role models like Orlando who can help him to re-claim the natural masculinity that others have tried to deprive him of, whether the homophobic society at-large of the “gender-non-conformists” who go hand-in-hand, and have tried to force him to accept the idea that Gay=Feminine rather than Gay=Masculine

    That there is nothing separating him and Orlando Cruz or any other masculine gay man but will power and self-respect, both of which are entirely within his own grasp.

    And that if he fails to re-claim his masculinity, he will have a miserable life at the margins of society, whereas if he does do so, the sky is the limit for him……and that it is entirely his choice.

    Finally, that there are those of us who are eager to help him and support him in his journey.

  31. Rick says

    “Those who are our heterosexual allies do not stand by us simply because of some male-male kinship–they stand by us because they recognize our common humanity, regardless of how we act or talk”

    No, I am convinced that “straight” men have their own reasons for wanting to eradicate homophobia from the male culture, namely that it will free them from their eternal social, emotional, and sexual dependence on women that has made THEIR lives so miserable, forcing them into seeking “soulmates” in the wrong place (with women) rather than in the right place (with other men).

    This burgeoning change, however, is not and will not be accompanied by a loosening of the standards of masculinity (except the one that equates masculinity with exclusive heterosexuality).

    And it is the convergence of these two strands of change–gay men re-claiming their masculinity and straight men discarding their homophobia that will result in an entirely new male culture that will re-define the whole paradigm you referred to.

    And that is an exciting thing to look forward to and be a part of, indeed.

  32. MateoM says

    Don’t you love it when Rick/Jason posts a really long response filled with homophobia, misogyny, femmaphobia, and racism? He’s literally saying “PAY ATTENTION TO ME!!! I’M DESPERATE FOR ATTENTION BECAUSE I’M A LONELY AND PATHETIC TROLL! ANY ATTENTION IS GOOD ATTENTION!!! LOOL AT ME!!!”

  33. says

    prove it. URL. let’s see this sterling example of masculinity you claim to embody 😀

    click my name, see who i am. tis really that simple, sugarpie 😉

  34. Nestor says

    Bravo Orlando! Te felicito por tener los cojones que se necesitan para salir del closet en Puerto Rico, especialmente en tu deporte. Boricua estoy contigo!!!!

  35. ratbastard says

    @ChristopherM ,

    YES boss, I’m a ‘white boy’. So effing what? What’s that got to do with anything? What ‘racist’ comments are you referring to?

    And I grew up mostly in a predominately P.R. neighborhood.


    @Lil Canadian,

    The fact you put your private info online is your business, I and MANY others would say that’s pretty foolish for a variety of reasons. It has NOTHING to do with being ‘brave’.

    Canadian broadcasters like the CBC [government financed broadcaster, analogous to PBS/NPR in the U.S.] is NOTORIOUSLY leftwing. I would agree that more diversity in political thought and ideologies exist in the U.S. media vs the Canadian.

  36. Stefan says

    Rick–I know I’m probably at risk of wasting a good ten minutes of my life here, but I’m going to try to respond anyways. Your ideas simply don’t work in a real world setting.

    (1) Your first comment rests on the assumption that most gay men in their youth behave a certain way because they identify as gay and in doing so choose to rebel against the hetero-normative messages they see every day, everywhere. If you prescribe to the primacy of learned behavior (as you seem to), then I’m curious how the vast majority of gay men with perceived feminine characteristics “learned” to have those behaviors. Doesn’t this rest on the same logic behind the arguments that gay men are gay because of weak fathers, overbearing mothers, etc.? Do you ascribe to that logic? The socio-cultural impetus to be masculine because one is male is much stronger and more dominant than any countervailing feminizing force, at least for the vast majority of gay men. This is why the narrative of having to “act straight(er)” to survive is so common and nearly universal, while the narrative of having to “act gay” is relatively non-existent.

    (2) Straight men will always have dependence on women because of the biological urge to reproduce, and the emotional and mental connection that forges (which is also grounded in our physiology as humans). Over time the idea that this dependence is mutual has come to be recognized in our legal institutions, rather than a view that falsely imagines women as property and/or reproductive machines. Heterosexual reproduction and the bond that creates is not a paradigm–it’s biological fact. Also, all men regardless of orientation have a profound biological connection with their mother. In short: men might be important, but so are women. Our quality as human beings is defined by how we integrate all people–men and women both–into our formation. I’m curious how your new culture of male-male soul mates actually functions in your paradigm.

    Most of my friends are straight, and when we discuss what made them into allies they uniformly say that it was simply because they recognized it as the right thing to do. The human thing to do. I just don’t understand how emphasizing the male/female biological division or masculine/feminine social construct is going to be productive. Historically, the idea of common humanity and universality is always what has advanced human rights and equality.

  37. says

    ratbastard, ya silly troll. it’s not my fault you don’t have the orbs to live honestly and can only spew your anti-black nonsense from a place of cowardly anonymity.

  38. Marc says

    There was also the boxer Marc Leduc who came out as gay. he won a medal at the olympics.
    But later passed away , i believe from suicide.

    As for the Canadian media, I would have to disagree that they are left wing. I would have to say more balanced. Most do not take a side, with the possible exception of sun TV.

  39. Derrick from Philly says


    That was a very thoughtful and well written comment. Unfortunately, you are trying to reason with a lunatic.

    Rick beleives that some great “cultural of masculinity movement” is about to take place. And in this new masculine world without women hetero and homo men will come together as one (like in anal sex).

    But Rick is not going to be here to live in this imaginary man’s world he’s predicting. We’re both in our fifties. Soon we’ll both be gone. I’ll be gone due to drinking too much booze, and Rick will either commit suicide or be beaten to death by a drag queen.

    There will be no end to the “culture of effeminacy” for Rick.

  40. UFFDA says

    RICK says, “And it is the convergence of these two strands of change–gay men re-claiming their masculinity and straight men discarding their homophobia that will result in an entirely new male culture…”

    STEFAN, while you have posted most thoughtfully, what RICK has said might also be true, I’d like to think so (except as I always add, there are lots of effeminant gay men who are naturally so and utterly wonderful people just as they are). Het men will always, rightly, need women more elementally than gay ones, but the gender-non-conformers who think it makes them cute or hip may well be on the way to finding themselves left out. But who knows, most gay men never read this rather negative-afflicted website and are probably doing just fine being regular guys.

    EHRENSTEIN – you’re the funest, always rising to the bait.

  41. Diogenes Arktos says

    @Little Kiwi: Nice interview. However, I thought your real name was Virgil Brown;-)

  42. Solomon says

    This is my homophobic brother’s favorite boxer. This is just too sweet. Too bad I defriended him on facebook. I would love to rub it in his face and then defriend him all over again.

  43. THE QUEEN says


  44. Icebloo says

    A brave guy. I wish him all the best. He is helping to break stereotypes and that’s a GREAT thing !

    Let’s hope he has a long and successful career !

  45. "The Gay" says

    Ugh. The discussion of masculine vs. feminine here is a train wreck of presumptions, assumptions, and misunderstanding.

    Read “Coming Out of Shame : Transforming Gay and Lesbian Lives” by Gershen Kaufman.

    The understanding of culture and gender identity has evolved WAY, WAY past what most posters here seem to be aware of.

  46. Robert says

    Straight people aren’t gonna like this. It’s disturbing because it upsets all the comfortable stereotypes about what homosexuals are supposed to be…effeminate, soft, limp-wristed, WEAK. You know, like the gay kid on Glee who’s always on the verge of tears.

    I hope the media gives this story about an openly gay boxer plenty of coverage….but somehow I doubt it. Too confusing for the heteros.

  47. Rick says

    @STEFAN To address your points.

    Point 1: All the scientific evidence we have points to the fact that an individual’s sexual orientation is pretty well set by the time they are 3 years old. And while children that young obviously do not have an adult-level understanding of sexuality, they do have, apparently, some kind of notion that they are attracted to the same gender or the opposite gender.

    And is this not evidenced by the fact that most gay people say they “always knew” they were gay?

    So sexuality is something we clearly have almost no control over.

    But there is no linkage, biological or otherwise, between homosexuality and effeminate behavior or between heterosexuality and masculine behavior. So why the predominance of effeminacy in gay men and the almost complete lack of effeminacy in straight men? I believe that the consciousness children have of their sexuality–COMBINED WITH the endless cultural messaging they get from their environment….which equates homosexual attraction with a lack of masculinity and heterosexual attraction with normal masculinity……that that messaging gets internalized over time and causes gay men to begin to see women rather than men as their role models (since women represent the feminine and are the only ones for whom it is acceptable to be attracted to men)…..and begin idolizing women and whether consciously or not, mimicking their behavior……while straight men see men as their role models and do just the opposite

    And this phenomenon then gets further reinforced when they get older and look around them and see that most gay men behave effeminately as well.

    So the myth develops that “that is just the way I am”, when, in fact, it is not….their behavior is artificial and a consequence of the effects of socialization in a homophobic society.

    As for Point 2: Understand that the idea of romantic love between men and women is nothing but a cultural construct. Men don’t really need women for anything other than to reproduce the species…and if push came to shove, they could force them to play that role if they chose to….and in some societies, that is actually what does take place, even today.

    The natural bond in terms of friendship and emotional attachment is between individuals of the same gender……and this is, in fact, what one finds in many cultures, with the male-female marriage being arranged and a formalized sort of relationship, often devoid of much emotional attachment or social interaction. Certainly this is the case in most Islamic countries, as I have observed repeatedly through personal experience. Not coincidentally, I think, bisexuality among men tends to be rampant in such societies….and I have observed and experienced this, as well.

    So, in reality, the social and emotional dependence men have on women is just an artificial creation, propped up in part by a homophobic culture that forces men to be emotionally distant towards each other.

    Take away that homophobic culture and the dependence on women disappears, except in the purely reproductive sense as described above.

    And I think feminism has taught straight men the folly of such dependence….and that is why they are now seeking to become independent, understanding that the only way to do that is to change the male culture to eradicate homophobia.

    The more gay men embrace masculinity, the more comfortable straight men are with dispensing with homophobia….and the more straight men dispense with homophobia, the more comfortable gay men become with bonding with them…….and as those two trends converge, I see a blurring of the lines that will be so complete that the boundaries disappear altogether in time, with one male culture replacing both the gay culture (and its effeminate character) and the straight culture (with its homophobic character)

    Hope that helps.

  48. Rick says

    @STEFAN Let me add that with regard to your comment that my ideas don’t work in a “real world setting”–well, that would be true if the culture remained stagnant, but my ideas are premised on the reality that cultures are always in a state of flux and the culture that exists decades from now will be in many respects drastically different from the one that exists now.

    Who could have envisioned feminism after all….and the profound effect it has had on this culture in the last generation?

    The only constant in the world is change…….









  51. Francis says

    Amazing. Although A LOT of the comments around the web have been negative, no-one can take away the courage it takes from doing this. Orlando Cruz has a new fan in me!

  52. Diogenes Arktos says

    Regarding hispanic culture and same-sex activity… It used to be quite acceptable for men to engage in same-sex activity before marriage as an appropriate way to discharge their hormones. All that was required was to be the “masculine” role. (Of course, one wonders where the bottoms came from.) It was quite unacceptable to be celibate at any point in life – at least in places like Puerto Rico, whose priests traditionally had to come from Spain and were thereby exempt from the requirement of an active sex life.

  53. DallasJ says

    Rick, Where is your bridge? I’m making travel plans and don’t want to pay the toll for crossing it.