Boxer Orlando Cruz steps up for gay rights, cancer awareness

Orlando Cruz, boxing’s first openly gay fighter, will sport pink gloves and a pink-trimmed ring jacket in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month for his world title fight on Saturday.

Openly gay fighter to wear rainbow trunks, pink gloves in title bout

Featherweight contender Orlando Cruz will wear a pink-trimmed ring jacket, left, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month for his world title fight on Saturday against Orlando Salido in Las Vegas. He will also wear rainbow-coloured trunks to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) social movements. (Courtesy Everlast)

Orlando Cruz has big plans when he steps in the ring Saturday night besides winning the vacant WBO featherweight belt.

Boxing’s first openly gay fighter will sport pink gloves and a pink-trimmed ring jacket in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Cruz will also wear rainbow-coloured trunks to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) social movements for his fight against Orlando Salido in Las Vegas as part of the undercard of the Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view.

Boxing manufacturer Everlast, in collaboration with Cruz, made the trunks and gloves.

Cruz enters Saturday’s fight with a 20-2-1 record with 10 knockouts while Salido is 39-12-2 with 27 knockouts.

Cruz has won back-to-back fights since he revealed to the world on Oct. 4, 2012 that he is gay.

With a great burden lifted from his shoulders, Cruz proposed to his boyfriend, Jose Manuel, earlier this year and they will marry next month in New York.

There were times when Cruz feared about what a fan might say from the stands in an attempt to demean him.

“I was scared,” Cruz, a member of the 2000 Puerto Rican Olympic boxing team, told Yahoo! Sports earlier this month, adding he saw a psychologist in New York to help work through his feelings. “I was worried about other boxers. I was worried about the fans. I would cry many, many nights thinking about it.”

Now, Cruz can focus on what it will take to defeat Salido. He said he’d have to be “intelligent all the time, very smart, and give him [a lot of lateral] movement” to win.

On June 18, Cruz was part of the first class of the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, inducted in Chicago alongside tennis stars Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, diver Greg Louganis and NBA player Jason Collins.

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