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Boxing trainer survives wife’s murder-for-hire scheme

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Boxing trainer Ramon Sosa is the subject of a new ESPN profile called "E:60 Dead Man Walking." The Texas-based boxing trainer explains how police helped him stage his own death to survive a murder plot hatched by his ex-wife, Maria. A chance conversation overheard by a friend would end up saving his life. Boxing trainer Ramon Sosa is the subject of a new ESPN profile called "E:60 Dead Man Walking." The Texas-based boxing trainer explains how police helped him stage his own death to survive a murder plot hatched by his ex-wife, Maria. A chance conversation overheard by a friend would end up saving his life. (photo courtesy of ESPN/Brandon Thibodeaux)

Ramon Sosa is the subject of an ESPN profile

“I was laying there in this makeshift grave with my eyes closed, and what appeared to be a bullet wound on the side of my head, and I wondered ‘Why did it have to come down to this?’”

Those are the words of Ramon Sosa, one of the best-known boxing trainers in Texas. As owner of Woodlands Boxing and Fitness, located in Montgomery County, Sosa had built a very successful business with a reputation for assisting troubled youth.

In addition to training pro boxers, Sosa developed a non-profit program designed to help young people extricate themselves from gang life while also training them to defend themselves ‘Puerto-Rican style.’

Sosa had it all, he thought. A great family, a booming business and a beautiful and loving wife named Maria.

During the first few years of their relationship, Ramon and Maria were inseparable, he says.

“She treated me like a king,” Sosa told me during a phone interview. “Our first few years were wonderful. She would get up early to make me breakfast, give me manicures and massages. People would see Maria and I together and they would say ‘Man, you hit the jackpot.’ Everybody was happy for me.”

Maria had come to America on a B-2 visitor’s visa. Once she and Ramon were married, she became a resident. Sosa saw to it that his wife, her children from a previous relationship and her mother all became legal U.S. citizens … something that coincided with noticeable changes in his wife’s demeanor.

“Right after she became a citizen, little things started happening,” Sosa said. “I realized that our relationship was starting to change.”

According to Sosa, Maria became irritable and demanding, with arguments erupting over seemingly nothing. One day, she announced her intention to file for divorce, informing Ramon that she planned to take the business as well as their home.

“I said ‘Whoa, it doesn’t work that way here,’” Sosa said. “I worked hard to build this business and to get everything that we have. I let her know that she wasn’t going to be able to do that. That’s when she decided that if I wasn’t going to do it her way, she would try to take me out.”

Three months after filing for divorce, Ramon’s longtime friend Mundo, a former gang member, overheard a discussion between Maria and her teenage daughter, about hiring a hit man from Mexico to kill Ramon.

“Mundo was part of my non-profit organization that I started back in the year 2000,” said Sosa. “He was an ex-gang member who had done time. He’d been shot at and he wanted out of the gang life. I helped him do that and became sort of a mentor or father figure to him. He helped me run the gym and sort of became my right-hand man.”

Mundo asked Maria if she was talking about taking Ramon out permanently.

“He did the pistol sign with his hand,” Sosa said. “‘You mean like this?’ When she said ‘Yes,’ he said he knew someone who could do that job.”

Concerned for Ramon, Mundo told Maria that he would enlist the help of fictitious gang members Paco and John Boy. He then went to Ramon to reveal Maria’s diabolical plan.

“I didn’t believe him at first,” Sosa said, when Mundo revealed Maria’s intentions. “I thought he was joking and I told him it wasn’t funny. He called me ‘Pops.’ He said, ‘I’ve seen this look on people’s faces and she’s for real.’ He said he would try to record her to see how far she was going to go. She even gave him money to buy a dirty (stolen) gun.”

Mundo recorded private conversations with Maria about her murder-for-hire scheme. When Ramon took this evidence to the police, they brought in their own undercover officer to investigate.

According to Sosa, the police needed a slam dunk case in order to convict Maria, who had a clean record up to that point. They knew a jury would be unlikely to convict unless they had indisputable proof of her intentions.

“They were worried that the jury might feel sorry for her so that’s when they decided to make me look like I was dead,” Sosa said.

Police used makeup on Sosa’s face and head to make it appear that he had been shot. They asked him to lie down in a makeshift grave as photos were taken from above.

“It was very difficult,” an emotional Sosa told me. “I was thinking about my kids because I knew they would see these pictures one day. Why did it have to come down to this? It could have been a simple divorce and we both could have moved on with our lives.”

On July 22, 2015, two hidden cameras captured Maria’s face as she was shown the photographs. An undercover police officer pretended to be one of the hit-men she thought she had hired. The officer says, in Spanish, “We got him in the morning.” Showing no visible reaction, she stated “I’ve got $1,000.”

Maria was charged with solicitation for capital murder in the first degree. If convicted, she would likely be issued a life sentence. While awaiting trial, she did 18 months in a county prison in the Houston area and later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of second degree capital murder. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Today, Ramon says he still has nightmares about the horrific events of 2015 that nearly cost him his life but is doing his best to move on. After encouragement from friends, he’s at work on a book which he says will outline the entire story.

Sosa is the subject of a new one-hour ESPN profile, titled “E:60 Dead Man Walking.” It’s available on demand at www.ESPN.com.

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