The 82nd annual regional Dallas Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament took place at the Hella Shrine Temple in Garland over a five-day period from Monday, Jan. 22 to Friday, Jan. 26 featuring fighters from all over the area, including two students from Melissa who had the privilege of training under an international boxing coach.

Shauna Garcia resides in Melissa with her husband and children. Both of her sons, aged 15 and 16, participated in the tournament last week, training for the competition under the direction of coach Barney Flores.

Flores is the owner of Barney & Me Boxing Gym, located at 1207 E Louisiana St in McKinney. Flores has been training both youth and adults in the sport for the past 38 years, earning the highest ranking of level 4 coach and level 3 official through his participation and dedication to the sport.

Flores is distinguished as an international trainer, working with a host of former Olympians and famed fighters, including Floyd Mayweather, Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Williams, Ricardo “Rocky” Juarez, David Díaz and David Reid, among others.

Now the assistant director for the Dallas Golden Gloves, Flores trains both youth and adults in Collin County and surrounding areas.

“Boxing not only helps youth, it is the number one conditioning sports relief,” said Flores of the benefits of the sport.

A host of athletes train at his gym, including MMA fighters, pro football players, baseball players, hockey players and wrestlers.

“I have worked with a lot of boxers and a lot of youth here in McKinney,” he said.

In order to train with Flores, it is mandatory to attend a two-hour class at his gym, held Mondays through Thursdays at 5:30 p.m., at least three times a week following weigh-in.

Flores got involved in boxing after his beloved uncle was murdered in 1987 by three youth in McKinney. Following the loss of his father figure, Flores decided to turn his life around and focus on his faith, as well as helping others. His main reason for his involvement in boxing is to help youth.

While the sport provides conditioning for athletes, it also gives structure and empowerment to youth. Though Melissa residents Ruben Garcia, boxing in the Junior Novice 119-pound weight class, and brother Andrew Garcia, boxing at the Junior Novice 176+-pound weight class, both lost their matches, the boys walked away with lessons learned.

”Their father participated in Golden Gloves in 1998 and it has been a dream for him to see his boys participate in the sport,” said Shauna Garcia. “The boys have shown an increase in self-discipline, and I’ve seen an internal motivation from both of them to train.”

Last week’s tournament was the first competition for both boys, and the experience has motivated them to train harder as they look forward to their next fight.

“It’s impressive to watch them manage their time and their energy to make time for a sport as demanding as boxing,” said Shauna Garcia.

Anyone who is interested in training with Flores can contact his gym at (972) 562-5958.