Drake Banks didn’t have to wait for Santa Claus to come to town. He had himself a Merry Christmas of his own doing.
On Dec. 5-9, the 17-year-old from Homosassa was in Salt Lake City competing in the USA Boxing Elite and Youth National Championships.
On the final day, Banks won the championship bout for the Youth Male 201+ pounds division. That pushed him to the number one national ranking within the weight class.
“It was definitely satisfying in a good way to cap off the year, especially right before Christmas,” Banks said. “It’s almost like a Christmas gift in a way.”
This was no ordinary victory for the young pugilist. As tournament champion, he garnered an invite to work at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and a spot on the national team, meaning he’ll get to compete internationally next year.
“He’s basically on track to be a United States Olympian,” said his father, Don Banks, owner of Citrus County Boxing Academy. “All this really is just leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. That’s the goals, first of all, and then probably pro after that.”
Boxing has become a Banks family affair. Don Banks used to compete in martial arts, then his eldest son, Gauge, decided to take up boxing. His daughter, Angelina, followed that lead and became a national champion back in 2010.
All the while, Drake was learning the sweet science and waiting his turn.
“He’s been in the gym since he was 8 years old. So he’s just grown up with it,” Don Banks said. “He’s gotten more experience, bigger, faster, longer than everybody else. He’s kind of leading the pack at this point.”
“Lot of sacrifice and a lot of hard work,” Drake Banks said. “Like…