On Friday, July 15, 2016, Orlando Cruz (24-4, 12 KOs) helped to honor the victims of Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting with a night of boxing.
Before the scheduled 10-round fight, Cruz was clear about the anger and sorrow he felt following the nightclub shooting.
“At first, I was sad,” said Cruz (via the Orlando Sentinel).
“Second, angry. I am very angry because people are homophobic, so they attacked my community. They attacked me.”
With the WBO NABO Super featherweight title on the line and some of the nightclub shooting victims and their families in attendance, Cruz delivered a seventh-round knockout of Alejandro “Alex” Valdez (26-8, 20 KOs) at the Kissimmee Civic Center.
A 49-bell salute rang to honor the victims.
According to Michael Gonzalez, a survivor of the Pulse shooting, Cruz is a hero in the LGBT community.
“The fact that he’s gay is something huge,” said Gonzalez (via the Orlando Sentinel).
“It proves that sexuality has nothing to do with whatever you dream. You can be a boxer, you can be a basketball player, you can be a baseball player and it’s completely normal. Their sexuality doesn’t ruin the fact that they can be skilled the same,” said Gonzalez.
Cruz, who is boxing’s first openly gay athlete, is now on a four-fight win streak, with his last loss coming at the hands of Gamalier Rodriguez in 2014.
All photos by Andrew Cleary/Carnival Works