Gay boxer Orlando Cruz: I was scared about coming out, but it’s made me happy and free

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Puerto Rican professional boxer Orlando Cruz says he was scared about coming out as gay because he feared a negative reaction from boxing fans.

The 32-year-old went public about his sexuality in October 2012 and became boxing’s first openly gay professional fighter in the process.

“I was scared,” said Cruz, reports Yahoo Sports, the boxer admitted he saw a psychologist in New York to help him 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.”

But the fears were unfounded and since that announcement, Cruz has won back-to-back fights in the ring.

“He made me feel better about it and that is how I made the decision to come out,” Cruz said of his psychologist. “He made me ready. Since I made the announcement, I have been getting nothing but support. I am happy. I am free. I am comfortable.

“Everybody gives me support and respect. When I interview with a newspaper, I would just like to have respect. Now, when I walk into the ring, I feel I have the support of a lot of people [in the LGBT community], and it makes me very happy.”

In June, he was a part of the first class of the US National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted alongside such champions as tennis stars Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, diver Greg Louganis and NBA player Jason Collins.

Cruz announced his engagement to long term boyfriend José Manuel on Facebook in August.

The couple are set to marry next month in New York.