What started as a childhood hobby turned out to be a professional career for Lucy Mendez.

     What started as a childhood hobby turned out to be a professional career for Lucy Mendez.
     Mendez, a Dodge city native, said she began watching professional wrestling on TV at the age of 5. "My cousin used to watch it and so he started making me  watch it with him and I became absolutely hooked" Mendez said in a phone interview Wednesday.
     As her love for the sport continued to grow over the years, she pursued it as a serious career in 2004.
"I entered a contest that the WWE was sponsoring. They were in the search for 'Divas.' Whoever won the contest was being awarded a contract," Mendez said.
     Mendez made it to the semifinals but did not win. Not to be discouraged, she pursued a modeling career after she was encouraged to do so by a producer who saw her at the contest.
     "He told me I should pursue modeling first, so I did that for three years," Mendez said.
     Her modeling career took her to Lawrence, where she met Michael Strider, a head trainer at a wrestling facility. Mendez knew right away she wanted to join but a week before she did, the facility went out of business.
     But just as one door closed, another one opened for Mendez. She was approached by Strider, who encouraged  her to contact Harley Racing Academy.
     Mendez set up a tryout at the academy in November 2008. And she withstood the tryouts, which were known to be physically grueling. "I think Harley was impressed that I didn't puke," Mendez jokes, "He called me the day after and asked if I wanted to be a part of the academy."
     Mendez has been with the academy ever since.
     "Lucy has made tremendous movement forward in her ability to perform in the ring." Race said in a Thursday Interview. "She is doing excellent. Her chances of going to a larger group, such as WWE, are very good."
     In being with the academy, Mendez has had the opportunity to wrestle in front of her two idols, Brett "The HItman" and Ricky Steamboat, and has had several TV appearances.
     Now Mendez is given the opportunity to wrestle in her hometown of Dodge City for the first time. Harley Race and his academy — including Mendez — will perform tonight at the National Guard Armory.The performance will be a benefit for the family of Belen Davis, who died in June due to complications from childbirth.
     In her debut, Mendez will be fighting to get her title back. She won her title in 2009 and lost it in March 2010.  
     "I am very excited!" Mendez said. "I get to fulfill a childhood dream in front of my family and friends."