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This ‘Dreamer’ and undefeated boxer finds peace in the ring in the face of uncertainty

For DACA recipient Alexis Zazueta, the sport of boxing has been a calming force amid the uncertainty of his future. The undefeated professional boxer was brought to Arizona at the age of 1 by his parents and found his passion for boxing in middle school. Special correspondent Tyler Paley of Arizona PBS reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    We take a closer look now at one of the young people whose fate could depend on Congress.

    Tyler Paley of Arizona PBS has the story of one dreamer currently protected under DACA and his uncertain future.

  • Tyler Paley:

    Inside the ring, tranquility, comfort, focus, but outside, a world of uncertainty and a fear of what tomorrow could hold, not just for one, but for many.

  • Alexis Zazueta:

    I know that the consequences are not just for me. It’s for my entire family. I feel like this is the place I can give my children the best future, just like my parents were able to give me the best opportunities I could ever ask for.

  • Tyler Paley:

    Alexis Zazueta arrived in the United States in 1996, brought to Arizona by his parents from Sinaloa, Mexico, when he was 1-year-old. The Zazuetas were undocumented, just like 11 million other people currently in the United States.

  • Alexis Zazueta:

    I didn’t even know much about, you know, being an illegal immigrant. I saw myself the same as all my classmates.

  • Tyler Paley:

    In middle school, Alexis got his first taste of what ultimately would become his life’s passion.

  • Alexis Zazueta:

    I remember one day, when I was 12, I went to the swap meet with my dad. And I saw a pair of boxing gloves. I asked him, dad, can I get some of those pairs of boxing gloves? They were probably like $10. And he bought me two pairs, so I could fight my brother.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Tyler Paley:

    And with that, he instantly fell in love with the sport.

  • Rafaela Zazueta:

    When he first started boxing, I couldn’t even look at him. I was so afraid for him. But his coach told me it was important for me to be there.

  • Alexis Zazueta:

    I remember the first day walking in, you know, seeing the rings on the side, the boxing bags here, all the fighters just hitting pads, sparring. I was like, wow, this is like something out of a movie. I used to believe that only rich kids used to box, you know?

  • Tyler Paley:

    At 17, Zazueta’s amateur career was taking off. He made it past the Golden Gloves state tournament with ease. Then came the regional tournament in Las Vegas, where he represented Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada. Another victory meant a bid to the national tournament.

  • Alexis Zazueta:

    I remember training so hard for that fight, you know, waking up super early to go run and get my workout in, going home, getting ready for school. Right after school, go to the gym. Right after the gym, go to my strength and conditioning. Every day, it was like — it was a routine, boom, boom, boom, for like two months.

  • Tyler Paley:

    His first professional match was in November 2013. And in the four years since, he’s undefeated, at 9-0, with five knockouts.

    For Zazueta, it’s his family that keeps him going. The 22-year-old not only has his parents and four siblings, but he’s the breadwinner for a family of his own. He has an 8-year-old step- son named Daniel and his girlfriend Paola just had their baby boy in November.

  • Paola Galvan:

    It’s making him more responsible, because he knows what he’s facing, you know?

  • Alexis Zazueta:

    I’m the head of my family. You know, I have got to always find a way to, just like my dad did, find a way to succeed. I have got to do that now to my family.

  • Tyler Paley:

    Zazueta says he’s never been in better shape, and his family is healthy. He renewed his DACA enrollment for another two years in September, but the president’s decision to roll back the program is what keeps Zazueta up at night.

    For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Tyler Paley in Phoenix, Arizona.

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