Orlando Cruz (right) exchanges punches with Orlando Salido in a WBO featherweight fight in 2013 in Las Vegas.
Orlando Cruz (right) exchanges punches with Orlando Salido in a WBO featherweight fight in 2013 in Las Vegas. Julie Jacobson

Cruz out to become first openly gay world champion

BOXING: The first professional boxer to come out as openly gay is ready to fight for the WBO lightweight title ... and the LGBT community.

Puerto Rican Orlando Cruz meets undefeated British boxer Terry Flanagan in Cardiff on Sunday morning (AEST time).

"I want to quieten the homophobic people talking bad to the LGBT community,” Cruz told the Associated Press. "I want it more for all the gay athletes in the world.”

Cruz became the first competing professional boxer to come out as openly homosexual 2012.

He admitted he initially had reservations about making the announcement, considering the masochism of his sport.

"It's just been support, support, support,” Cruz said about the reaction of the boxing community.

"All the boxers respect my life, my decision. When Orlando Cruz walks into the ring, Orlando Cruz is separate from my sexual orientation. Orlando Cruz is a professional boxer.”

Getting his second shot at the WBO title after losing at his first crack, to Mexican Orlando Salido in 2013, Cruz is determined to become the "first openly gay world champion”.

"It's a big moment for me, a big moment for my community, a big moment for my country, Puerto Rico,” Cruz said.

"I want that other (gay) athletes are not scared to walk into the society. Don't be scared. Be happy with your life, and happy with your decision. All people are the same.”



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