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Born premature, Flores develops into a champion fighter
Nine-year-old Andre Flores will compete at the 2017 Silver Gloves National Championships this week in Missouri. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Andre Flores spent the first two months of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Doctor's Medical Center.

Born premature on Halloween in 2007, Flores weighed just three pounds, six ounces.

"He was fighting to be in the world," said Andrea Perkins, Flores' mother. "Now, he's fighting in the ring. It's a beautiful thing. It's miraculous."

Andre, who is a healthy fourth-grade honor student at La Rosa Elementary School, will travel to Missouri this week to compete for the 65-pound title at the 2017 Silver Gloves National Championships.

"I've been doing well because I train every day, five days a week," Flores said.

Andre improved his overall record to a perfect 11-0 after winning a three-round split decision over previously-unbeaten/two-time national-champion Danten Kaheaku of Hawaii in the finals at the Silver Gloves Western Regional-8 Championships on Jan. 7 in Compton.

Flores qualified for Regionals after winning the Silver Gloves California State title on Dec. 4 in Los Angeles.

He took first in the novice division at the Central California Association Jr. Olympics in Fresno.

"He's always been focused," said Damian Flores, Andre's father. "I've never had any attention-span issues with him. He follows directions. He soaks in everything like a sponge. He's gifted. He's not going to brag about himself. His work speaks for itself."

Flores is a member of the Salvation Army Modesto Red Shield Center's Boxing Club.

"He puts a lot of work in," said Juan Barrera, one of Andre's coaches. "He's really strong for his age. He's not your average kid."

"He can be a boxer," Damian added. "He can be a brawler. It depends on the style of fights other boxers bring."

Small and fragile when he was born, Andre has developed into an elite fighter.

Flores was introduced to the sport of boxing at an early age.

His great grandfather Louie Jordan is in the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame. Cousin Leonard Davis IV is a professional fighter.

"I've been training at my house since I was 3 years old," Andre said. "I do sit-ups and push-ups. I jump rope. I spar. It (boxing) made me more disciplined and focused. And I had to change my eating habits. No more ice cream, cake, pizza, chicken nuggets and fries, or soda. It's very hard."

"Boxing is a physical sport," Andrea said. "I'm always a little worried. He's strong in mind, body and soul. He's not arrogant or cocky. He's very humble. He gets along with everybody."

"He's had adversity in his life," Damian said. "He's defied the odds against him. I'm very proud of him."

The National Silver Gloves Championships will be staged, Feb. 1-4.

"It's up to him to choose what he wants to do with his life," Barrera said. "If he chooses to box, I see him doing great things. He might be that one in a million."

"My favorite boxer is Floyd Mayweather," Andre added. "He doesn't get hit a lot and he's never lost."