Boxer Orlando Cruz had a big year, winning a North American title and getting a shot at a world championship title. Now he has been named by Outsports Male Athlete of the Year for his accomplishments and his pride.
Outsports has this to say about why the editors chose Cruz as their 2016 pick:
The professional boxer has literally worn his Puerto Rican heritage proudly on his boxing trunks for years. After coming out publicly as gay he added a rainbow flag to his boxing attire, even at one point showing up for a weigh-in wearing just rainbow-colored underwear.
Cruz had a fantastic 2016, winning his first three bouts and claiming the WBO North American Boxing Organization super featherweight title. In July he won his title bout against Alejandro Valdez after dedicating the fight to the victims of the Orlando Pulse massacre. It was his first knockout win in over four years.
In November he had a shot at the world lightweight title. He fell short in that bid, losing in the eighth round in a TKO to defending world champion Terry Flanagan, Cruz’s first loss since 2014.
Still, Cruz, with a 25-5-1 record, is one of the world’s best boxers and will have more title chances in his future.
That he continues to perform at such a high level in the uber-macho sport of boxing, wrapping himself in rainbow flags and welcoming his role as a role model for LGBT athletes the whole time, makes his selection as Outsports’ 2016 Male Athlete of the Year that much sweeter.
Coming in with honorable mentions were Eric Radford, Derrick Gordon, Gus Kenworthy, Carl Hester and Spencer Wilton.