Orlando Cruz, known as the first openly gay boxer, won Friday night’s match against Alejandro “Alex” Valdez, which he dedicated to the victims of last month’s massacre at Pulse nightclub.
Cruz wore rainbow briefs during weigh-in as a tribute to the victims, and the bell was rung 49 times — once for each life lost.
"Orlando Cruz, the first openly gay boxer will be dedicating his upcoming July 15th fight to the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, which claimed the lives of 49 people. Cruz, who lives in Puerto Rico with his partner had four friends who died in the tragedy. "At first, I was sad", Cruz told the Orlando Sentinel of his reaction to teh shooting. "Second, angry. I am very angry because people are homophobic, so they attacked my community. They attacked me." During the July 15th fight in Kissimmee, Florida, Cruz will ring 10 bells to honor the Orlando victims and their families. Cruz, currently the fifth ranked boxer in the world and the reigning champ in the super featherweight division came out in 2013 prior to a bout in Kissimmee. ~The Advocate. #homophobiaisstupid #orlandocruz #boxing #hateisstupid #revolutionary
The 35-year-old lost four friends in the Orlando tragedy, and recently got a tattoo of a memorial ribbon that is partially rainbow and partially the Puerto Rican flag as a way to honor them.
Michael Gonzalez is a survivor of the deadly shooting and attended the match on Friday to see Cruz, who he considers a hero in the LGBT community.
“The fact that he’s gay is something huge,” Gonzalez said. “It proves that sexuality has nothing to do with whatever you dream. You can be a boxer, you can be a basketball player, you can be a baseball player and it’s completely normal. Their sexuality doesn’t ruin the fact that they can be skilled the same.”