A boxing coach faked his own death, with the help of police - to prove his wife had hired a hitman to kill him.

Ramon Sosa, 50, of Houston, Texas, joined forces with detectives to gather evidence that his wife, Maria 'Lulu' Sosa, was offering US$2000 ($2900) to have him killed.

Former gym owner Sosa said: "Unwittingly, she had approached a guy called Gustavo, to see if he could organise the hit, without realising we were friends.

"I knew him, because I'd coached him. He'd been in trouble in the past, but had turned his life around.

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"At first, when he called and said he needed to see me, because someone 'wanted to kill me,' I thought he was joking.

"Then we devised a plan, for him to wear a wire and tape her offering money to have me killed, before turning the evidence over to the cops."

A staged image of Ramon Sosa in a grave. Photo / Montgomery County District Attorney's Office
A staged image of Ramon Sosa in a grave. Photo / Montgomery County District Attorney's Office

Far from joking, Mrs Sosa, 43 was deadly serious - wanting her husband dead.

"It was for financial reasons," Sosa said. "The business was not as successful as it had been."

Sosa continued: "Gustavo told me she was clearly serious and had held her fingers to her head, in a gun-firing gesture."

But her plans were thwarted, after Gustavo hid a microphone inside his clothing and taped their next meeting, before handing the incriminating evidence in at Montgomery County Police Station, in Houston near Sosa's home.

Mrs Sosa's plans to employ a hired killer came as a massive shock to Sosa who, after meeting her in Texan salsa club Mi Luna in 2007, had been intoxicated by her beauty.

The divorced father, with three children, Mitchell, 26, Mia, 22, and Cris, 24, soon wooed her - before marrying her in April 2010 - convinced he had bagged the woman of his dreams.

"Nothing was too much trouble for Lulu who was a personal trainer," Sosa recalled.

"She would give me manicures, pedicures and foot rubs. She would rub oils onto my back and treat me to massages. It was paradise and my friends were jealous."

Until their wedding, the only difficulty had been that, as a Mexican, every few months, Mrs Sosa had been forced to return home to renew her visa.

But, marrying Ramon - originally from Puerto Rico, but now an American citizen - entitled her to a Green Card, meaning she could stay permanently in the US, where they opened a successful gym together.

Life ran smoothly until early 2015, when financial worries, as the gym struggled, put strains on their relationship.

Ramon Sosa said he was convinced he'd bagged the woman of his dreams when he married Maria in 2010. Photo / Woodlands Boxing
Ramon Sosa said he was convinced he'd bagged the woman of his dreams when he married Maria in 2010. Photo / Woodlands Boxing

"I thought we'd work through it," said Sosa. "Then, out of the blue, Lulu said, 'I want a divorce'."

Forced by their finances to remain under the same roof, it was soon after this, in mid-2015, that Sosa received the chilling call from Gustavo and their bid to prove Mrs Sosa's murderous intentions began.

Ramon continued: "After recording his meeting with her, where Gustavo pretended to know two hitmen, we took the tape to the police, who were shocked - but came up with a great plan.

"They asked me to pretend to be dead, so we could show the pictures to Lulu."

With the support of the FBI, Texas Rangers painted bloody makeup on Sosa, so it looked as though he had been shot through the temple.

Then they drove him to the Texan desert and buried him in a shallow grave, which they had already dug.

"Lying in the dirt, pretending to be dead, was terrifying," Sosa recalled. "When I first met Lulu, I certainly didn't expect our relationship to end like that."

Taking photographs of the morbid scene - which have now been released under Open Request, the USA's equivalent of a UK Freedom of Information request - they then made sure Sosa stayed in a hotel for three days, forbidden from contacting anyone, and showed the pictures to Mrs Sosa.

"A 'hitman' who was actually an undercover police officer, met Lulu in a parking lot and showed her the pictures," said Sosa. "She apparently laughed."

Maria Sosa was an instructor at the boxing gym in Texas run by her then husband Ramon.
Maria Sosa was an instructor at the boxing gym in Texas run by her then husband Ramon.

But, the last laugh was on him, when Mrs Sosa pleaded guilty to solicitation of murder at the District Court in Conroe, Texas, and was jailed for 20 years in October 2016.

Sosa, now in a new relationship with a woman he does not wish to name, added: "Lulu was silent in court, but justice has been served.

"Still, it would be wrong to say this hadn't had a lasting impact on me. I'll never be the same man again."

District Attorney Kelly Blackburn of Montgomery County District Attorney's Office confirmed: "Maria Sosa (pleaded) guilty to the offence of solicitation of murder and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Ms. Sosa waived any appeal when she (pleaded) guilty."