Angel Martinez missed Auburn's graduation ceremony while competing in Colorado at the Continental Boxing Championships. However, he was still able to receive his diploma in front of family, friends, faculty, and school administration, in a surprise ceremony hosted by the school.
"I didn't know this was happening, I'm speechless."
Boxer Angel Martinez usually takes the long walk to the ring, but after he missed his high school graduation ceremony, Auburn walked him down the aisle, so he could receive his diploma, celebrating his academic and athletic achievements.
Angel's trainer stepped into a different kind of arena - graduation speaker.
"This will be my first commencement speech. And for some reason, I feel like it will be my last," said Jimmy Goodman, to applause and laughter. As his speech unfolded, a special bond between boxer and trainer shined through.
"I always told him you were a champion in and out of the ring. I love you. I love you like a son, like a brother."
Angel was awarded Student Athlete of the Year by RPS 205 athletic director Mat Parker, and then, for Rockford's rising boxer, the main event - receiving his diploma in front of a packed room with faculty and administrators wearing the traditional graduation attire for commencement exercises.
"It brought a lot of emotions, and I don't cry much, but it got me going," Martinez said.
A triumph outside of the ring, as Angel Martinez raised his arms, not with a title belt in hand, but his diploma.
"I thought it would be a row of a couple people, I didn't know the whole library would be full. There are no words," Martinez said.
Except this pronouncement from Auburn High: "Angel Martinez has met or exceeded requirements set forth by the state of Illinois and the Rockford Public School district and therefore is a graduate of Auburn High School."
Then, one final walk to a standing ovation down the aisle, a scene likely to repeat itself in the years to come, as Angel Martinez pursues sweet success in the sweet science.