Cruz Control: Orlando Comes Out
“Boxing is a celebration of the lost art of masculinity all the more trenchant for being lost.”—Joyce Carol Oates…
“Boxing is a celebration of the lost art of masculinity all the more trenchant for being lost.”—Joyce Carol Oates
It had to happen sooner or later. Other sports have faced it, as often poorly as not, and now it’s boxing’s turn.
Flyweight contender Orlando Cruz (18-2-1, 9 KOs), currently ranked No. 4 by the WBO, has, with attendant fanfare, come out of the closet.
In a much heralded press release, Cruz is called “the first openly gay man in boxing history.” Honorariums like that make one sit up and take notice. But it might be prudent to take a moment before removing superlatives from the oven when they are only half-baked.
“I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years,” Cruz said in a statement, “and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself. 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. I don’t want to hide any of my identities. I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman [who] always brings his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship.”
When revelations emerged concerning tennis greats like Bill Tilden, Billie Jean King, and Martina Navratilova, it didn’t hit tennis like a forehand smash across the net. When Olympic diving sensation Greg Louganis admitted he was gay, it caused barely a ripple.
But tennis and diving are not boxing, in any way, shape or form. Boxing is the last bastion of masculinity and proud of it. While there have been scores of fighters and trainers, past and present, that were are attracted to members of their own sex, outing them seems beside the point, if not sensationalism run amok.
But it’s common knowledge that Hall-of-Famer Emile Griffith and the great Christy Martin fall into that category, and not surprisingly, they both almost died as a result.
Sexual orientation has next to nothing to do with performance. Look no further than G-man deluxe and that quintessential man’s man J. Edgar Hoover if you have any doubts.
But insofar as Cruz being the first openly gay boxer, even that is open to doubt. The late Mark Leduc, the Olympic silver medalist who fought for the vacant Canadian junior welterweight title in 1993, came out of the closet a year later.
It is, as Yahoo’s Kevin Iole writes, “a sad sign of the lack of progress in our society that, when Cruz issued a statement on Wednesday admitting his sexual orientation, it was news.”
An equally sad sign of progress is that misinformation is circulated as fact, especially with Google just a click away.