Sydney Olympic boxer Cruz a ‘proud gay man’

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Puerto Rican featherweight Orlando Cruz (18-2-1, 9 KOs) became the first openly gay pro male boxer Thursday when he announced in a statement that he was tired of hiding who he really was and wanted to be “true to myself” as his career ascends.

“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,” Cruz said. “I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”

Cruz, No. 4 in the WBO rankings, competed for the Puerto Rican national team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and went pro in December of that year. He’s won his last two fights and is scheduled to enter the ring in a headline bout against Mexican Jorge Pazos (20-4, 13 KOs) on Oct. 19 in Kissimmee, Fla.