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Memorable year for first-grader
Six-year-old Mikey Duran had a banner year in 2007. The Virginia Parks first grader took first in fighting, forms and weapons at the Golden State Karate Association State Championships. The invitation-only event was held Oct. 17-19 at the Horizon Casino in Lake Tahoe.

"He has three championship belts," Ceres Karate head instructor and father Mike Duran III said. "That's pretty exciting."

Mikey compiled a 29-1 record on the year in fighting during the GSKA Circuit. He participated in events each month, beginning in January.

"The competition is great," Duran III said. "It keeps him focused. Win or lose, we're just proud of him."

A straight-A student at Virginia Parks, Duran became a member of Ceres Karate at the age of 21/2. Mike attributed part of his son's success to his classmates.

"He has a lot of training partners at this school," Duran III said. "That's made a difference."

Mikey's dedication helped him obtain an intermediate level, blue-green belt. He's also the youngest sponsored athlete for Revgear Sport. The martial arts equipment and supplies company is located in Burbank.

"He'll earn his blackbelt in the next three to four years," Duran III said. "He trains year-round, four days a week. He also does Brazilian Jujitsu. He wants to be in the UFC."

Father and son watch three to four Ultimate Fighting Championship events live each year.

"He just has a blast," Mike said.

Located at 2005 Central Avenue, Ceres Karate has 270 active members. It's owned by Miguel Duran Jr.

"Eventually, he (Mikey) will be running the school," Duran III said.