CLEVELAND — He's quick on his feet and his hands are hot. Daylen Houze is punching his way through his opponents and tragedy.
"It actually pushed me to keep going," said Houze. "She wasn't the type of person that would have wanted me to stop, she wanted me to keep going."
Houze is talking about his 9-year-old sister, Saniyah Nicholson. She was killed last summer while sitting in her mom's car outside of Houze's boxing gym, DNA Level C Boxing Club on Lee Road and Harvard Avenue in Cleveland.
"I think she would be very happy, for the way I came up," said Houze.
For a while it was hard for the young athlete to cope with his sister's tragic passing, but that's when his boxing coach and the gym's owner, Ra'Sheen Ali, stepped up in a big way.
"Boxing didn't kill his sister and she was a big supporter of him," said Ali. "She used to come in here everyday and tell him, 'Hey, it's time to go.' I told him to use that as his drive, as his force when he goes in that ring; he's got a cause now."
With his sister on his mind and in his heart, Houze has been beating the odds.
"Now he's one of our top fighters at DNA," said Ali.
Houze is not stopping there. He was the runner up at National Silver Gloves and even qualified for the Junior Olympic National Championship where he will compete next week.
On top of it all, he's an honor roll student.
"I just have to see what the future holds," said Houze.
He's fighting his way through the pain and celebrating his sister's life through his success.
"I was her superstar in her eyes, so that's what kept me going," said Daylen.