MANILA, Philippines – Puerto Rican boxing champion Miguel Cotto commended his countryman and fellow boxer Orlando Cruz for announcing that he is gay.
Cruz, a former Olympian and a serious featherweight contender, made headlines last week when he said that he is gay. He is believed to be the first openly gay active boxer.
“For many years, Orlandito and I spent time together on the national team in Puerto Rico,” Cotto said in a radio interview, as quoted by Boxing Scene. “We went to the Central (Games), Pan American (Games), World Championships, Olympics...”
“I have a great appreciation for Orlandito. I congratulate him,” he added. “Orlandito is my friend. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him, but I congratulate him.”
“From this point forward, he will see that his life will change a lot and things will be much better for him.”
Cruz announced last week that he is a “proud gay man,” and told the Associated Press that he does not “want to hide any of my identities.”
“I developed physically and mentally to take such a big step in my life and in my profession, which is boxing, knowing that it would have pros and cons, highs and lows in this sport that is so macho. I kept this hidden for many, many years,” he told AP.
“I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always brings his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship,” he added in a statement.
Meanwhile, the president of the Boxing Commission of Puerto Rico told ESPN that Cruz’s announcement will have little effect on his boxing career.
“Orlando has proven to be an excellent boxer with very good chances of becoming a world champion,” said Dommys Delgado. “We do know that it (boxing) is a very macho sport.”
“Those who don’t want to fight with him, well, don’t fight,” Delgado added.