Gay boxer Orlando Cruz comes out of the closet

Orlando Cruz</p>

Orlando Cruz

Orlando Cruz makes history by becoming the first professional boxer to come out of the closet.

The 31-year-old Puerto Rican native told USA Today on Wednesday that he's a "proud gay man."

More from GlobalPost: Michael Schumacher, 7-time Fortmula One champion, to retire again

"I've been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself," Cruz said. "I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career."

A professional fighter since 2000, Cruz competed in the 2000 Olympics for Puerto Rico and is 18-2-1 this season with nine knockouts, according to

More from GlobalPost: New Zealand withdraws Mike Tyson's visa due to rape conviction

His next fight is Oct. 19 against Jorge Pazos in Kissimmee, Florida, ESPN reported.

However, he plans to sit down with Telemundo for an exclusive interview before that.

The Bleacher Report's Michael Walters was among several sports commentators who supported Cruz and his announcement.

"For Cruz to come out while still actively participating in what has to be considered one of, if not the, most macho sports is truly brave," Walters wrote.