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Baltimore Boxer Gervonta Davis Makes Impact In Boxing World And In His Community

October 16, 2014

When you're a young kid growing up in Baltimore's inner city, the right path can be hard to find. 

"Guys out here have the wrong picture, they just throwing bad stuff," 19-year-old Baltimore native Gervonta "Tank" Davis said. "But it's also good kids out here, but they wind up walking into something."  

Luckily for Davis, he found boxing. 

"Boxing was a release for me because I was fighting," said Davis, who began training at Upton's Boxing Center in Baltimore at 8 years old. "I was fighting and I was around people that love me, so I have a new set of family. When people see me in the gym, it's like they happy because I'm doing what I'm supposed to do in the ring."

Davis is now a professional featherweight boxer making an impact not only in his sport but in his community as well.

Issue 202: Gervonta Davis
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lorin Chvotkin)

Watch Davis on "Inside PressBox:" Part I | Part II 

Davis's first taste of success in the ring came at age 10 when he competed in and won his first USA Junior Olympic tournament in the 65-pound division. He won the tournament again in the 80-pound division three years later. By age 14, Davis was winning tournaments all across the country, establishing a reputation as one of the top amateur boxers in the United States. He finished his amateur career with 206 wins and 15 losses.

"I remember when I first laid eyes on him," said boxing coach Calvin Ford, Davis' long-time trainer. "He was always doing something exciting. He'd work hard. I mean, to be that young and to come in the gym and push yourself the way he was pushing himself -- like he knew what he wanted to do in his mind."

The 5-foot-6, 126-pound featherweight made his pro debut Feb. 22, 2013, when he defeated Desi Williams by first-round knockout. Davis has knocked out seven more opponents since. His pro record is 9-0 with eight knockouts and one unanimous decision.

Despite all of his achievements between the ropes, Davis insists his greatest accomplishment has come outside of the ring.

"What's been the highlight of my career right now is I went back to school," said Davis, who dropped out of high school to pursue a life in boxing. 

In an effort to finish his education, Davis attends Baltimore's Excel Academy, a high school dedicated to accommodating students who are overage and under-credited. Since returning to school, Davis has studied as hard as he's trained.

"He has committed the same energy he's putting in the boxing ring into school," said Excel Academy principal Tammatha Woodhouse. "He's also been a role model for a lot of our students who have come back to school because of him."

According to Baltimore City Councilman William Welch, Davis' local celebrity has been invaluable to his community, as his return to school has inspired several new students to enroll at Excel Academy.

"His presence here is enormous," Welch said. "I hope that as he develops his leadership skills and understanding from Excel Academy that he becomes a part of the leadership of Baltimore, especially among our young people."

Davis has already begun to embrace a leadership role, joining a local initiative to put a stop to bullying. He held a public workshop titled "Bullying Stops Here" at Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore Sept. 26.