Parkside Elementary School first grader Eric Boykin, who is all of 40 pounds, just started wrestling a few months ago and he's already an award-winning wrestler in Ohio.
Eric, who will turn 7 on April 16, struggles with opponents on the mats, but he's had a far tougher struggle with undiagnosed heart defects since he was born.
The champ went through two open heart surgeries which has put the Boykin family through what his mother, Holly, describes as a "tremendous roller coaster ride."
"A bunch of us families work with the American Heart Association have been working on legislation regarding Pulse Ox testing on newborns," shes said. "We are proud to announce that some very smart and forward-thinking legislators have sponsored Senate Bill 4 which will ensure that every newborn baby in Ohio receives a simple, non-invasive blood oxygen test that helps to determine if the child has an undiagnosed congenital heart defects (CHD)."
Congenital heart defects are a leading birth defect in the United States and the No. 1 killer of infants with birth defects. Eric was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect — which is basically holes in the heart.
"His hole is right where a valve is," his mother said in this Chagrin Valley Times story. "And during his first heart surgery, when they went in, it was 500 percent bigger than what they thought, because his hole was going vertically and not horizontally. And it distorted his valve. He still to this day has valve issues. But they wanted to repair it, because, if they take out that valve and put in a mechanical valve, they would have to do five more surgeries before he's 18, because that valve would not grow as he grows."
As difficult has the heart problems have been for the family, the 6-year-old's mother says it's a blessing in disguise.
"He has never let his heart defects keep him from doing anything he wanted to," she said.