News & Politics

Virginia Kid Competes on American Ninja Warrior Junior

The 10-year-old recently competed in the quarterfinals on the show.

AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR -- "Quarterfinal 4" Episode 312 -- Pictured: Gabriel Holder -- (Photo by: Patrick Wymore/Peacock)

Like any other kid, 10-year-old Gabriel Holder loves climbing on top of things and jumping around. Thousands of his peers can only dream of running through a giant obstacle course decked with beams and floating tiles. But, Holder is one of the lucky few that gets to put his ninja skills to the test on Peacock’s sports competition game show American Ninja Warrior Junior.

The Prince William County student calls himself the “Math Ninja.” Here’s why: Not only can he laché—or swing jump from bars—really far and climb warped walls super fast, but he’s a math whiz, too. He spends his free time solving logic puzzles and pondering over algebra equations when he’s not being a ninja.

His mom, Cythnia Squire, says that Holder has always been a daredevil. As a little tike, he would climb on the furniture and run around the house.  “He’s just always been like that,” she said. “So, I would just look for stuff that would nurture that part of him.”

To contain the little ball of energy, she enrolled him in taekwondo classes when he was three and a parkour gym when he was five. A few years later, she discovered NoVa Ninja, a ninja training facility in Ashburn. “I thought it was just a show,” she said. “I didn’t know it was actual sport.”

Since he started at the gym, he’s gotten to train with American Ninja Warrior athlete Jamie Rahn and improve his speed and agility skills, which landed him a spot on the show. Holder was used to being in front cameras, but he’d competed in front of that big of a crowd before. “At the start, I feel nervous,” he said. “But when I’m in the middle of the course, I start to get better and I keep running through.”

Besides showcasing his skills on national television, Holder has competed in several ninja competitions all over the United States, such as the National Ninja League and the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association Finals. It may seem like a tough challenge for a kid to balance schoolwork and traveling all the time for competitions, but Holder says that he doesn’t find it to be all that difficult.

That’s why he is always looking forward to next training session and race. Last weekend, he placed third in the National Ninja League competition in South Carolina, and he hopes to keep competing even when he’s an adult. If you want to keep up with the Math Ninja’s adventures, check out his Instagram page and tune into American Ninja Warrior Junior on Thursdays.

Damare Baker
Assistant Editor

Before becoming an assistant editor, Damare Baker started out as an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.