A former Olympic boxer and one of the top-ranked fighters in the world has made history by becoming the first openly gay man in the sport's history.

Orlando Cruz, a professional boxer from Puerto Rico with more than two decades in the sport, described himself as "a proud gay man" as he went public with his sexuality for the first time.

"I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself," the 31-year-old said. "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."

Cruz is ranked number four in the world in the featherweight division by the World Boxing Organisation, and boxed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.


"It is absolutely fantastic that Orlando has taken the step to become the first openly gay boxer," said Richard Lane, a spokesman for Stonewall, an organisation which works for equality and justice for gays and lesbians.

Aris Pina, a boxing historian, said Cruz's revelation would also have a positive impact on the Latino community.

"It takes a lot of courage to announce you're a proud openly gay Puerto Rican man, especially within the Latin community where men are very masculine, and within the homophobic world of boxing."

- Independent