Boxer Orlando Cruz: “I Want To Inspire The Gay Community By Becoming A World Champion”

The boxer is hoping to make history with a win in his match this Saturday.

Orlando Cruz has already made history as the first openly-gay professional boxer, but he’s looking to take things one step further by becoming the first gay World Champion as well.

Cruz will have his chance to claim victory this Saturday in a match against WBO World Lightweight champion Terry Flanagan.

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Cruz acknowledges Flanagan is a great boxer “who will defend his title with everything he has,” but says there’s an even bigger reason why he admires his opponent.

“He respects my life and my choices,” Cruz told Boxing Scene about Flanagan. “He sees the man boxing him and that is it.”

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 12:  Orlando Cruz (R) throws a punch at Orlando Salido during their WBO featherweight championship bout at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 12, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The boxer said he was mostly met with support from family and friends when he decided to come out three years ago, but he doesn’t let the anti-gay slurs from less-accepting boxing fans get to him.

“I don’t care if they say, ’Orlando Cruz is gay. Faggot.’ I don’t care,” he told CNN. “I look at my family when I walk in the ring. I look at my mum, sister, I look at my brother. I don’t care, you know, I’m just focused on my family.”

KISSIMMEE, FL - JULY 15: Orlando Cruz reacts during his introduction prior to his fight against Alejandro Valdez at the Kissimmee Civic Center on July 15, 2016 in Kissimmee, Florida. Cruz was the first professional boxer to announce himself as gay and recently lost four friends in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, he dedicated this match to his lost friends and won the bout by TKO in the 7th round.  (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Alex Menendez, Getty Images

This year he’ll also be able to look out at his husband, Jose, who will reportedly be watching him from the stands, and he hopes that his openness about his sexuality will help to make an impact no matter the outcome of Saturday’s fight.

“When I look at my story, it makes me hopeful that more people will be inspired to come out,” Cruz said. “[But] right now, my focus is fully on the big fight.”

h/t: Towleroad

Adam Salandra is a writer, performer and host in Los Angeles. When he's not covering the latest in pop culture, you can find him playing with his French Bulldog puppy or hovering over the table of food at any social gathering.
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