Sunday, March 17, 2013

Video: Key moments from Orlando "El Fenómeno" Cruz's victory

Pardon me the amateurish edits on this clip but I wanted to share three key moments from Friday night's boxing match between Orlando "El Fénomeno" Cruz and Alan "The Bomber" Martinez.

That's not the way a gay boxer is supposed to act: The first key moment happened during the second round and it is one of those things that people in gender study classes love to deconstruct in 300-page analytical books.

For Cruz I assume it was simply an attempt to unnerve his opponent.

If you blink you might miss it but at the 6 second mark you'll see that Cruz is standing behind his opponent when he swiftly reaches out and slaps his butt.  The crowd went wild even if I doubt Martinez noticed it.

The referee, in the meantime, walks over to Cruz and admonishes him for the gesture.

The moment packs power because this is not what boxing fans expect a gay man to do.  To stand over his opponent and own him with a simple gesture.

Telemundo sportscaster Jessi Lozada seems at a loss for words at first but then says Cruz shouldn't have done it:
That could be a double-edged sword because it could bother and make his opponent that much more furious. If there comes a point at which he can hurt him he won't have mercy. It has an opposite effect: He's just pouring gasoline on a fire and there is no need for it.
Standing tall: That, of course, did not turn out to be what happened as Cruz dominated most rounds and emerged victorious by technical knock-out in the 6th round.

At the 46 second mark you can see the knock-out punch and at the 1 minute mark you will see how Cruz celebrates the victory as the referee calls it for him.

As his mother jumps for joy in the stands, Cruz climbs the ropes and salutes the crowd. He goes up a second time and makes sure the crowd takes notice of who he represents.

He points at the Puerto Rican flag on one side of his kilt-like trunks and then switches and points at the rainbow colored Puerto Rican flag.

And I have to say as a Latino gay man watching Cruz making sure the crowd knows exactly who he is at the point of victory is just incredibly moving. There are almost no words.

Family ties: The third moment comes at the 1:38 minute mark. In an October interview with the British newspaper The Guardian Cruz said that his relationship with his father since coming out had been somewhat strained.
My dad is more difficult because of the macho thing. Now, it's better. He supports me but… there is always a 'but'...
Cruz's grandmother had passed away four months before the fight and as he celebrated his victory the emotions seemed to catch up to him.  He tried to hide his tears by kneeling down and facing one of the ring's corners until a man in a blue shirt approached him and helped him to stand back up.

That man was Cruz's father.

Cruz would later dedicate the victory to his grandmother.

After the fight: It is well known that most showbiz and sports figures sometimes receive their share of outsized adulation from their fans -- including dating proposals.

After the fight on Friday Cruz emerged from the Kissimmee Civic Center ready to meet a couple of friends from Florida. As he made his way out a male fan approached him and handed him a gift.

It was a pair of "Papi" brand underwear.

His friends through it was hilarious and asked Cruz to pose with them (photo credit: Dagmar Andrades).

Orlando Cruz gets a memento from Friday night's fight in Kissimmee (Photo credit: Dagmar Andrades)

A Dominican fan reacts: One of the persons who saw my blog post about the fight was Gióniver Castillo Santana from the Dominican Republic.

In July of last year Gióniver was almost arrested during a pride rally in Santo Domingo for carrying a large flag he had designed to look like the Dominican flag except he changed its colors to those of the rainbow flag.  Officers deemed it disrespectful to the nation and organizers of the rally actually sided with the police.  Apparently there is a law in the Dominican Republic that makes changing any of the nation's emblems punishable by law.

Watching Cruz fight while proudly showing a Puerto Rican rainbow flag brought up mixed emotions for him. He posted a GIF on Facebook (see right) and said the following:
When I went out with that [rainbow colored Dominican] flag I knew there was a chance I could be arrested and that I would not get the help of the LGBT community, but even though I knew I was at risk it didn't really matter to me.  I take strong stands because it is my hope that when Dominicans read my words they'll want to change their ways.
He added:
What the LGBT community is missing is valor, they only think about partying. We have to train the LGBT community to act with valor so that a boy doesn't have to go out carrying a flag to give a little sense of protest to a pride rally that only serves for people to party.
Extra: A Spanish-language post fight interview with Orlando Cruz and his mother and telenovela actress Cynthia Olavarria. via Behind the Ring.


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