Orlando Cruz, a featherweight boxer from Puerto Rico, has become the first openly gay man in the sport's history, after describing himself Wednesday as a "proud gay man."
The No. 4-ranked featherweight by the WBO, said, "I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself...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."
As Curdell 'Doc' Hoskins, a gay 40-year-old amateur boxer who organized the Gay Boxing League, told Out in 2009, "Being gay in the boxing world is very taboo. There are definitely some out there, but no one talks about it."
The boxer Emile Griffith came out after his career ended and his career can be quite instructive. As Brian Thomas Gallagher explained in his story "Cinderella Men":
"At the weigh-in before Griffith's 1962 fight for a world welterweight title, his opponent, a Cuban named Benny 'the Kid' Paret, called Griffith a maric'n, the Spanish word for faggot. Enraged, Griffith took his revenge in the 12th round of the fight, backing Paret into a corner and knocking him out cold with a vicious flurry of uppercuts. Unseen by the ref, Paret's arm was hooked on the rope, keeping him upright as Griffith battered his head with a slew of undefended punches. Paret fell into a coma and died 10 days later. Years after his retirement Griffith came out of the closet, and, recalling his bout with Paret, said, 'I kill a man and most people understand and forgive me. However, I love a man and so many people find this an unforgivable sin.' "