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Orlando Cruz On Coming Out: 'I Hoped It Would Make Me A Better Boxer'

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When Orlando Cruz came out in October, he explained to reporters that he wanted to be true to himself. But that wasn't the only reason why the Puerto Rican native revealed to the world that he's gay.

In a recent interview with Germany's Spiegel Online, the 31-year-old fighter explained he had a second motive for coming out -- he hoped it would make him a better boxer.

"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 explained.

In the Q&A, Cruz describes the moment when he first realized he was gay; after meeting a man during the Sydney Olympic Games when he was 19, Cruz felt something had changed in him. Though he didn't accept his sexual orientation for a long time -- Cruz said he was "too afraid" -- he eventually came out to his parents. His mother took the news remarkably better than his father, Cruz said. However, his father was there to support him in the stands during his first fight as an openly gay boxer against Jorge Pazos, which Cruz won by unanimous decision.

Though Cruz has described himself as "very happy" and "free" after coming out, revealing that he is gay was not always a viable option in boxing, which Cruz said is "largely dominated by machos."

"Some 15 or 20 years ago it would not have been possible for me to come out. Back then, people still had such narrow views, but today many of them are more liberal," Cruz told Spiegel Online. "Being gay is no longer a taboo in many parts of society. That has affected sports, even boxing."

Click over to Spiegel Online to read the rest of Cruz's Q&A, and watch an excerpt from his interview with HBO Sports in the video below.

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