This month boxer Orlando Cruz is gracing the cover of The Advocate magazine. The World Boxing Organization’s number four-ranked featherweight announced that he is “a proud gay man” last fall. Advocate contributor Ari Karpel talks to him about his coming out, his troubled childhood & what the future holds. Cruz who first jumped in the ring at 7 years of age at 5’4” states, “I was taunted & bullied because I was little. And because they thought I was gay. They tried to abuse me with words.” He recalls being labeled both “maricon” & “pato” – two Spanish-language equivalents of “faggot.” Boxing came as a way to defend himself having been in numerous school fights. The principal even called his parents saying, “Your son is crazy,” Cruz remembers. “My mom & dad didn’t want me to fight on the street,” he says. His parents then enrolled him in boxing lessons, where he learned speed & agility, & the rest is history. Even though boxing has never taken off with the gay audience with Cruz in the ring there’s a potential for a surge in gay viewership. Meanwhile Cruz remains content with his place in the ring & the team that surrounds & supports him. “My whole team supports me, & I’m going to continue boxing for all audiences,” he says noting that he’d be thrilled if the gay audience followed him. “I will do my best to not disappoint the gay audience.” He also doesn’t want to disappoint his homeland of Puerto Rico as well & he’s now working to dispute the popularly held myth that the Puerto Rican culture is vehemently homophobic.
To Read The Full Advocate Interview….