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The Boxer: Orlando Cruz

‘Being punched in the face is nowhere near as scary as coming out', said Orlando Cruz, a member of the 2000 Puerto Rican Olympic boxing team -  link here

 (Photo: AP)

He became the first openly gay man in professional boxing, a sport not exactly overrun with people known for tolerance and understanding.

Since that announcement, Cruz has won back-to-back fights and he'll carry a 20-2-1 mark and 10 knockouts to the ring when he meets Orlando Salido for the vacant WBO featherweight belt Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

By speaking a few short words, a great burden was lifted from Cruz's shoulders. He proposed to his boyfriend, Jose Manuel, earlier this year on Facebook, and the couple is set to be married next month in New York.

Cruz's fear that he would become the target of angry boxing fans never materialized. The LGBT community embraced him, and on June 18 in Chicago, he was a part of the first class of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted alongside such luminaries as tennis stars Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, diver Greg Louganis and NBA player Jason Collins.