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Orlando Cruz said the fight "comes with a heavy heart and I owe it to my fans and community to deliver a memorable performance."
The world’s first openly gay professional boxer, Orlando Cruz, has announced he will fight for his gay community and dedicate the proceeds from his Friday featherweight fight to the victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre, where 49 were killed in June.
The Puerto Rican will be taking on Alejandro Valdez in Kissimmee, Florida, which is about a half-hour drive from the shooting at the PULSE gay nightclub, where four of Cruz’s friend were among 49 people killed in June. The 35-year-old, who represented Puerto Rico in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, is planning to ring 10 bells before the fight in honor of the victims.
“At first, I was sad. Second, angry. I am very angry because people are homophobic, so they attacked my community. They attacked me,” Cruz said of the shootings to the Orlando Sentinel.
Cruz fought and won at the same venue in Kissimme after he declared to the world that he was gay in 2012, a bold move within the boxing world.
“Orlando and Kissimmee, they’re like a second Puerto Rico. I’m always grateful for all of the love and support I get when I fight there … my next comes with a heavy heart and I owe it to my fans and community to deliver a memorable performance,” Cruz was quoted as saying by BoxingScene.
Commenting on being the first openly gay active professional boxer, Cruz told The Guardian in 2013 that, “I decided to be free. They call me maricon, or faggot and I don’t care. Let them say it because they can’t hurt me now. I am relaxed. I feel so happy … I am proud to be Puerto Rican, just like I am proud to be a gay man.”