The city of Baltimore showed love to their native son when he defended his world title there last month. Now, Davis is showing returning that love by giving back to the city’s children.
The hands, and the faces, and the texts, and the tweets, and the calls come from everywhere when you make it. It doesn’t matter what calling in life it is. Success dwindles the idle the time of the successful, and it can also be blinding.
Many pro athletes can trace the roots of their accomplishments. Almost every boxer can, too.
Yet many also have a tendency to keep moving forward, never back at where they came from, or to the people that helped them get there, or to the community that continues to support them.
Gervonta “Tank” Davis isn’t one of those athletes.
The 24-year-old Baltimore, Maryland native gets it. Davis (22-0, 21 KOs) knows how to give back. That’s why this Friday, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Robert C. Marshall Recreation Center, at 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, in Baltimore, Davis will be giving out almost 300 school bookbags and assorted school supplies, along with his trainer, Calvin Ford.
Davis has arranged for games, and free food and refreshments to also be a part of the day.
“I always felt Baltimore backed me a lot, so this is my way of showing my appreciation,” said Davis, one of the best young fighters in the world, who on July 27 successfully defended his WBA super featherweight title with a second-round TKO of Ricardo Nunez before a sellout crowd at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore.
“It’s important for me to give back to the kids,” he continued. “It’s something that I needed to do, because a lot of kids who don’t have a mother and father, and, unfortunately, they can’t get school supplies. I’m in a position to help them out. Me and my team came up with the idea do this. You know this is something I need to be doing more, and this is the first step. It’s important to me to maintain my connection to the city. I need to make sure that I help the next ones coming up.”
Davis, to his credit, smiled widely over how he’s viewed by the younger kids in his community. It genuinely means something to him, because not that long ago, he was a young kid looking for his way.
“This is the first time I’m doing this, and it’s coming out of my own pocket, so these kids looking up to me, it’s important that we’re hands-on,” Davis said. “We’re giving away the bookbags, but we’re also giving away school supplies, so it’s everything in one. I’m going to make sure I wear my sweats and be hands-on with everything. I’m excited, very excited to be doing this.
“ It’s important for me to give back to the kids. ” Undefeated World Super Featherweight Champion - Gervonta Davis
“I know the community loves me. They showed that love last month when I fought. This is something that I have to go out of my way for, and it’s important for me to show my love back to them.”
Ford said this actually isn’t the first time Davis has reached into his own pockets to help others. Last year, Davis was involved with a turkey drive. This year, it’s the bookbag giveaway.
Ruled by an old-school standard, Ford stressed that maintaining a connection to the city where a fighter comes from holds paramount prominence.
“If you get your city behind you, you get the world,” Ford said. “A city can love you or hate you, but if you do give back and support them, they’re going to support you. Tank has a lot of kids looking up to him, but that was happening since he was a little kid himself. Malik Hawkins is from Baltimore, and though they’re a year apart, he’s always looked up to Tank.
“The great thing that Tank is doing is not only giving back to the kids that box, it’s other kids who are doing good things. We have other partnerships involved and Tank is beginning to understand how important he is. I try to explain to Tank all of the time that the best champions are the ‘people’s champions.’ You want to be there for the people, because they’re your people.”
Ford feels Davis is on the verge of being a cross-over superstar, the kind of superstar Floyd Mayweather is. It’s acts like Friday that continue to remind Davis where he came from—and where he is.
“I saw Tank one time reach into his pocket and pull out a handful of money and give it to people so they could take care of their bills,” Ford said. “That’s something people don’t know or see with Tank. He gives like that, and this comes out of the blue. There was one time, a friend of ours came into the gym. Tank didn’t know what was going on in her life, and he just gave her some money.
“She broke down crying and said God must have answered her prayers, because she was going through financial problems. I asked Tank why he did that. He told me that when he was a little kid, the same woman used to tell him to stay focused and keep chasing his dreams. He wanted to thank her.
“It’s an attitude Tank has: ‘If you support me, I’ll fight for you.’”
For a closer look at Gervonta Davis, check out his fighter page.
- Gervonta Davis