By Kirk Jackson
Throughout the history of the sport, as well as every other sport, there has been gay athletes. With boxing, this being such a gladiator-esque, masculine sport, it’s difficult to picture a gay boxer. Many may have various opinions on the matter and many believe a gay boxer is not threatening by any means.
Theoretically speaking, what if the baddest man on the planet, “Iron” Mike Tyson was gay? In his heyday, he was one of the most feared fighters on earth. Would you still be afraid of Tyson if he was gay? Would the level of respect still be present? The level of acceptance and open minded-ness to this subject back in the 1980’s and 1990’s compared to now, is quite different.
Coming off the heels of the Missouri University, defensive end, Michael Sam situation, we generally do not see athletes open up about their homosexuality.
On August 9th, 2012, Nicola Adams also became first openly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) athlete to win an Olympic boxing Gold medal, after her win at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Former Olympian and current featherweight title contender Orlando Cruz, is an openly gay fighter. On October 4th, 2012, Cruz became the first boxer to come out as gay while still active professionally.
Legendary former welterweight and middleweight champion Emile Griffith, later admitted after his career was over, to liking both sexes.
Griffith was quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying, “I like men and women both. But I don’t like that word: homosexual, gay or faggot. I don’t know what I am. I love men and women the same, but if you ask me which is better… I like women.”
The fear of exposing yourself sexuality, leaving yourself vulnerable is the potential negative reaction is frightening. As human beings, many of us fear what we don’t understand. We may be judgmental and may have irrational opinions about someone or something we do not fully comprehend.
Cruz suffered some backlash, as his title fight against Orlando Salido last year was thought of as a joke and Cruz was jeered consistently throughout his match en route to a TKO defeat.
Griffith faced some adversities in regards to homosexuality as well. During the weigh-in prior to their third bout in 1962, Benny Paret hurled homosexual insults towards Griffith.
In 1992, Griffith was savagely beaten on a New York City street, after leaving a gay bar near the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He remained in the hospital for a few months after the assault and to this day, it’s uncertain if the attack on Griffith was motivated by ignorant, homophobic attackers.
What if Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao said they were homosexual or bisexual? How would you react? Should a person’s sexual preference even matter? As long as they compete at the highest level and display the courage it takes to step inside the ring and perform to the best of their abilities, why should their sexual choices matter?
In no way am I try to insinuate Mayweather, Pacquiao or Tyson are gay. The goal is to create an open forum of discussion on this topic and to get the opinions of boxing fans.
So what do you guys think? What is your stance on homosexuality in boxing?