Landmark makes for lazy media

If one is going to make the focus of a fight report centre on sexuality, then merely tossing the word gay into the headline isn’t really going to do the decision much justice.

Where is the classy, polished, thoughtful documentary on Cruz? Does he demand headlines but not depth? In the Medias hunger to present the first title fight for the first openly gay boxer as landmark, they have starved a boxer of personality. A boxer who is gay becomes “that gay boxer”. A depressingly large number of articles both before and after Cruz’ defeat to Salido open headline with the word gay, and almost every single one remaining manages to squeeze it in, but should Cruz’ sexual orientation demand focus in a fight report?

If so, then it should be more than a three letter word in the headline. When Timothy Bradley gave up meat and dairy, his next fight report did not read vegan wins title fight.Of course, we are not talking about a diet choice, we are talking about the worlds first opportunity to see an openly gay boxer win a world title. But without taking away any of the significance and good that Cruz’ announcement has done for the sport, it may, one year after his declaration, just about be time to go back to calling him “boxer Orlando Cruz”.

In the moments after Cruz crumpled to the canvas, Salido offered his view on the fight, and the fighter. “He’s a good fighter, he moves well in the ring,” he said. “But he’s not anything special” This, despite the positivity and uniqueness of Cruz’ announcement, is the right attitude to have in this time. It has been over a year since Orlando Cruz came out. An article from The Guardian, by Paul Thurlby covers where Cruz is and where he was at in the run up to his title fight with depth and thoughtfulness. It makes for a great read, and it is with this precision and detail that a personality and a story like this should be executed.

There are some that will always snigger at a gay sportsman. That will become apparent over time. Just as there are still people who find issue with race, and now and forever there will be people who will turn the channel over from Paralympic sport. But society is for the most of it looking at life with clear vision, untainted by a minority of views that just don’t, and wont, matter.

Bernard Hopkins, at a press conference, voiced his views on why so few boxers are open about their sexuality, saying “One thing is that it’s the nature of the sport. And second, I think that a lot of people will probably look at (an openly gay boxer) different. “
Indeed, boxing holds a reputation that still carries the faint smell of macho, all aboard the banter-bus laddishness, like an old coat stained with beer and cigarette ash. This is the same sport that a week ago hosted an all-star online display featuring Tyson Fury calling every heavyweight in his twitter - vicinity a homosexual. Perhaps the next headline he owns should have a prefix. Homophobia will always carry dangerous and tragic undertones when it steps in between the ropes of this sport. Before Cruz’ announcement, boxing and homosexuality last crossed paths in another significant moment, when Emile Griffith, in 1962, was taunted and insulted by Cuban Benny Paret before their fight. Griffith administered a brutal beating in the fight, knocking Paret out. 10 days later, Paret died, making boxing’s first significant link with homophobia a tragic one.

As a man of Puerto Rican descent, a location in the world where gay marriage is still banned, Cruz’ role is unquestionably significant. But so is the role of those who report on these moments. It is our role to strike a balance between separating Cruz from the sport and placing him with everybody else involved in it. On Saturday the 12th October, boxer Orlando Cruz lost by TKO to Orlando Salido. The headline should read similarly, unless it elaborates articulately.

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  1. N R Potter, Beloved Uppercut Editor 08:04am, 11/05/2013


    Perfectly right to point that out, should have stressed “openly gay.” as this is what i meant. The world was not aware of Griffiths sexuality in the same way as they were aware of Cruz.

    Now changed, thanks.

  2. Jan Swart 10:52am, 10/25/2013

    “We are talking about the world’s first opportunity to see a gay boxer win a world title.” Emile Griffith, anyone?

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