Legendary Boxer Orlando “El Fenonmeno” Cruz is famous for being a fantastic boxer and also being an openly gay one.
Cruz came out as gay in 2011 to the acceptance of friends, family, and fans. Having that weight off his chest helped him become the third ranked boxer in the division of featherweight for the World Boxing Organization Latino.
Now, he’s being honored by the city of Chicago in two upcoming events.
Orlando Cruz will be honored during Chicago’s Puerto Rican People’s Parade in Humboldt Park and then later honored at Chicago’s Pride parade.
Ricardo Jimenez, a director at the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Humboldt Park, said they chose Cruz for the honor because they want to spotlight the life and career of a successful gay man.
“I thought it was very important, today, when we talk about LGBT rights, Latinos start to accept the reality that (LGBT Latinos) are part of society and are to be respected,” Jimenez told the ChicagoTribune.
Cruz, who normally lives in Miami, will be heading up to Chicago to participate in both of these events. He’ll be crowned the first “Cacique King” of the Puerto Rican parade in honor of Puerto Rico’s Taino roots.
That said, this announcement comes during an important time in Cruz’s career. He says he’s planning to retire after about two more matches.
Afterwards, he wants to focus on youth empowerment and possibly opening up his own gym to train the next generation of boxers.
On top of that, Cruz wants to help LGBTQ youth who are struggling with their sexuality or gender identity. He says he doesn’t want youth to have to struggle like he did when he was younger.
“To the young people that are going through what I went through — be yourself,” Cruz said in Spanish. “Don’t be scared about what you feel, don’t be scared to say your feelings, to look for professional help. And don’t for anything try to take your life.”
If you want to see Cruz for yourself, and you’re in the Chicago area, you can see him at both the People’s Puerto Rican Parade and the Chicago Pride Parade.
The People’s Puerto Rican Parade starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Division Street and Western Avenue. Then, the Chicago Pride Parade starts at noon June 24 at Montrose Avenue and North Broadway.