A Stockton youth who is the youngest-ever to sign with prestigious boxing organization Top Rank doesn’t just want to fight in the ring, he wants to fight the gang violence that took his mother’s life in 2013.
Gabriel Flores Jr., 16, signed a six-year contract with Top Rank, Inc. last month, his father, Gabrial Flores Sr. said in a telephone interview. The high school junior can’t starting working until after he turns 17, which will be in the spring. His family hasn’t decided yet how to handle his school work for his senior year. They might homeschool Gabriel for part of the year, allowing him to return and graduate with his class in the spring, his father said.
Gabriel is a good student overall, his dad said, noting that although at times his boxing activities have caused him to fall behind, he always works to catch up.
Gabriel Jr. started boxing at age 7, becoming interested when he saw his father training his older brother. Early on, he showed both interest and aptitude, boxing in amateur tournaments. When Gabriel Jr. was named outstanding boxer (locally) at age 9, and won his first national championship at 11, his dad knew he had the talent.
He expected his son to have a professional career, but he was surprised when it happened so soon. Although it is a great accomplishment, both father and son know it is only the first step on a long journey. Some might be satisfied with such an honor and lose focus, but Gabriel Jr. understands that now is the time to increase his focus, his dad said.
Gabriel Jr. has said in a number of interviews on ESPN and elsewhere that he aspires to make it to the top of the boxing world. His Twitter feed (Stockton’s King @G_Squad_Nation contains bold statements like “People Doubt Me But You Should Be The Smart One To Know And Believe Ima Go All The Way,” with hashtag #AllHustleNoLuck).
The young boxer’s mom, Juanita Maldonado, died March 18, 2013 after being shot at a child’s birthday party, a loss that strengthened his resolve to stand against the gang violence that plagues his beloved hometown.
As a star athlete, he will be in the position to be a role model for Stockton’s children.
“I think he knows that, and he wants to do the anti-gang violence thing,” his dad said.
Top Rank has promoted boxing greats including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar DeLa Hoya, George Foreman and Alexis Arguello, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.