Court Is In Session

Attorney takes up sweet science, plans to fight later this year


Story and photos by Herman Delgado

Like the old days, the microphone drops down from the rafters, and a light shines on the announcer, “In this corner…standing five feet and tipping the scales at a solid 108 pounds…she hails from the Sun City…Sarah Valenzuela!”

It’s not the type of introduction Valenzuela gets in a courtroom, but that’s what she hopes to hear when she makes her amateur boxing debut in the upcoming months.

At first glance, it’s hard to imagine that this innocent, soft-spoken and baby faced young lady has aspirations of lacing up a pair of boxing gloves, stepping through the ropes and inflicting pain on someone.

After a long day of filing motions, standing up and shouting, “objection your Honor!” and putting bad people behind bars, this young, humble lawyer heads down to the Armijo Recreation Center. The gym is located in the Southside’s Segundo Barrio surrounded by many murals and children playing soccer in the dirt lot across the street.

She has already traded in her business suit, heels and briefcase for a gym bag with boxing gloves, hand wraps, head gear, and boxing shoes. Valenzuela is ready to put in 90 minutes of hard training. Shadow boxing, pounding the heavy bag, mitt work, double-end bag, sit-ups, jump rope, and at the end of the workout, she gives you that “eye of the tiger.”

It’s all in a day’s work inside the “square office,” and that loud bell from the timer that sits on a shelf next to the boxing ring has no meaning to her now … she’s done! Tomorrow morning, she returns to her office where she serves as General Attorney with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and prepares to follow the same schedule she has been following since July 2017.

A 27-year-old attorney and 2015 graduate from the University of Texas at Austin Law School, Valenzuela has a love and passion for the law and the sweet science.

She recalls at a young age sitting down with her father, Salvador and late-grandfather, Vicente Hernandez, to watch the fights on TV.

“My Dad and Grandpa were big fight fans and I used to join them when they would watch the fights,” said Valenzuela. “I like fighting I guess that’s why I became an attorney. It’s the same mentality, the same strategy…anticipating what your opponent is going to do and having a fighting attitude.”

It’s this fighting attitude that put her in contact with her boxing trainer, Robert Velez, a licensed referee in Texas and New Mexico and member of the WBC and NABF. He also happens to be a courtroom deputy for U.S. District Judge Philip R. Martinez.

It was Velez affiliation with boxing that she decided to ask him if he would teach her the sweet science.

“I was real reluctant and I didn’t think that that she would take it serious,” Velez said. “She was going to karate and they weren’t taking her serious.”

The two decided to give it a try, met up at Armijo, it’s been almost a year, and things look good.

“Right now, I’m real excited about watching her progress, getting better and better every time,” said Velez. “She’s getting more comfortable…I remember her in the beginning she couldn’t shadowbox, she couldn’t understand the concept of punching the air. It was very hard for her to get comfortable shadowboxing and now to see her progressing I get really excited watching her every time she reaches a level.”

If her passion and love for the sport is any indication of where her career will take her, she might be trading in her boxing robe for a black robe one day.

*Pending her clearance, Valenzuela has received a tentative offer to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas El Paso Division.

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