LGBTQ representation within the sports community is having quite the week.

Amanda Nunes became the UFC's first openly gay champion, and now boxing's first openly gay professional fighter, Orlando "El Fenómeno" Cruz, is going to dedicate his latest match to the victims of the Orlando shooting. 


In an effort to be true to himself, the Puerto Rican featherweight boxer came out in 2012.

"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," Cruz told USA Today. 

He immediately recognized that being a Latino gay man would be no easy feat.

"People have died because of this. I am proud to be Puerto Rican, just like I am proud to be a gay man. But I was sad and angry a long time because there are two doors to death over this one issue," he told The Guardian in an interview shortly after he came out. 

Even though Puerto Rico has had a rocky history with same-sex marriage, the island is taking steps to truly recognize the queer community as it installed the very first LGBTQ monument to honor the victims of the tragic shooting.

But he also announced that he was gay in hopes of becoming a better boxer. He knew he was interested in men since he was 19, but had kept it a secret for so long that it was impacting his practice and focus of his craft.

He spoke to German's Spiegel Online where he revealed that he didn't want to accept that he was gay. "Until now, I have kept my personal life and my career strictly separate from each other. No one was supposed to know that I'm gay. This game of hide-and-seek was incredibly strenuous and it took a lot of energy out of me. Now I'm hoping that I can put that energy into my training," Cruz said.

Being out has proven to benefit this talented Boricua as he is ranked fifth by the World Boxing Organization in the featherweight division. 

Shortly after his brave declaration, Cruz went on to sport rainbow-colored trunks for the world title championship fight in 2013.

Unfortunately he did not win the fight, but he was victorious in making a bold and powerful statement in the ring. 

Now the out and proud fighter is using his platform to show respect to the victims and family members of the Orlando shooting by dedicating his July 15 match to them.

Cruz has a personal connection to the attack as well as one of his close friends died in the Pulse nightclub shooting. 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, there will be an #OrlandoStrong banner in the arena and they will ring the bell 49 times — once for every victim.

"I am very angry because people are homophobic, so they attacked my community. They attacked me.''

Three days before his bout (July 12), Cruz visited a memorial at Pulse.

“It really affected me and made me angry to see that among so many dead was my close friend. Gay people have rights just like everybody else and everyone needs to realize that we deserve to live openly and happy,” he told Buzzfeed.

Cruz has bravely vocalized his frustration with the unjust violence surrounding the queer community. "I want people to be more friendly, that people accept the community of LGBT.''

"The people change their attitude, and the people love. People are the same. Gay, straight, whatever," he said in his interview with the Orlando Sentinel. 

Whether you're a fan of boxing or not, you can't deny that this will be one of the most moving fights to date.