Openly gay boxer Orlando Cruz won the WBO's North American Boxing Organization's lightweight title in Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday in a fight he dedicated to the 49 victims, family members and survivors of the June 12 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
It was a special and moving moment for Cruz, who lives in Puerto Rico with his husband but considers Central Florida a second home. He said he lost four friends in the Pulse shooting.
Before his win, Cruz and his opponent Alejandro Valdez joined the crowd in silence as the ring bell was struck 49 times to honor each of those killed. Among those in the crowd were survivors of the shooting. You can watch the bell being rung here: In the week prior to the fight, Cruz spoke about what the events in Orlando meant to him as a gay man.
"At first, I was sad [after the shooting],'' Cruz said. "Second, angry. I am very angry because people are homophobic, so they attacked my community. They attacked me. ...
"I want people to be more friendly, that people accept the community of LGBT,'' Cruz said. "The people change their attitude, and the people love. People are the same. Gay, straight, whatever."
With his seventh-round knockout win, Cruz has moved to 24-4, with 12 knockouts.