Kevin Elliott of the Hannibal Boxing Club wants his success to inspire other local fighters.
Kevin Elliott had dual motives for his six-round majority decision last Friday in Jefferson City, where he earned the first belt of his undefeated professional boxing career.
Of course, the Hannibal Boxing Club standout wanted to win for his own validation. But even more so, Elliott set an example for local fighters to follow, hoping to spur interest in a sport that altered the course of his life.
“I love to see kids do good in life so I try to tell them how much boxing has helped me in life and how it kept me out of trouble,” Elliott said. “I was going down wrong path at a young age but when I started boxing it changed my life completely. I'm hoping kids seeing me with the belt will give them motivation to work out again and make boxing alive again in Hannibal.”
Nice opportunity to visit with Kevin Elliott of Hannibal Boxing Club after he continued his undefeated pro career with a win in Jeff City. pic.twitter.com/zpdPPGi1xs— Courier-Post (@HCP_Sports) July 6, 2017
Elliott, 25, got his start in boxing while in elementary school. That's when Elliott first connected with Lyle Hoskins, the owner of the club who he unflinchingly calls “dad.” At the age of 12, Elliott moved into the Hoskins household and became an addition to his family.
“He more or less took me in as his own kid,” Elliott said of Hoskins. “He's not my real dad, but he's more or less my dad. I started boxing, and one night I stayed at his house with his kids, and he more or less took me in as his own kid. I lost my father when I was five, so he's been a big part of my life.”
Elliott says he turned to boxing to stay out of trouble, translating his work ethic in the ring to other areas of life, including school. He is a 2010 graduate of Hannibal High School.
All the while, the emerging boxer gained experience with nearly 80 amateur fights.
“When I first started, I sucked really bad,” Elliott admits. “My first ten fights, I didn't make it out of the first round. But I just never gave up and my team never gave up.”
In 2013, at 21 years old, Elliott started competing at the professional level. He got off to a strong start, as his first five fights were all first-round knockouts.
Elliott, 7-0-1 in his pro career, secured what he called his most significant win to date last Friday. Elliott won a welterweight battle against Steven Mincks, who he previously earned a draw with in October 2015.
“It was my first six-round fight, and I was pretty excited,” he said. “It was a majority decision. I felt like I won a unanimous decision, but the judges saw a majority decision. But it was a really good time. I really worked hard for it. For the past four months, I've pretty much slept in the gym.”
With the win, Elliott earned an Old School Boxing Missouri Belt, which he looks at as much as wears.
He plans to defend the belt later this year.
“I have to defend the belt within 120 days,” the victor explained, adding he thinks the next fight will be in October. “It feels really good to have that. I worked way hard for that. This is a fight I've worked really hard for, more than any other fight.”
Elliott said it was a learning experience to go six rounds, calling it a matter of endurance and explaining he had to make in-fight adjustments to come out on top. He admits not always listening to the advice his cornermen offered during the bout.
“Your plan changes when you get punched in the face,” he cracked. “It does, no joke. Sometimes it's not that bad, but this one, it kind of changed a little bit.”
Last Friday was Elliott's first official fight in nearly a year and a half due to scheduling challenges and a hip injury he sustained eight months ago.
“There was a little bit of ring rust, but I was just really confident that I was going to win. With how hard I worked for it, I just believed I was going to do fine,” he said. “I have a really supportive team. And my brother, (former pro boxer) Brandon (Hoskins), is my sparring partner. He comes down here once or twice a week to give me some work in the ring.”
Elliott lives a full life, holding down a full-time job at True Manufacturing in Bowling Green while also training two and a half hours a day at the boxing club, which is located near the intersection of Third and Bird streets in downtown Hannibal.
“This is what I love to do,” he said of boxing. “This is my hobby. I want to make my hobby my living, though. That's my goal.”
That's not all Elliott is aiming for, however. His eyes on are on the big picture of how the boxing club can serve the community in a positive way.
“Our gym is non-profit so we don't charge anything,” Elliott said. “We're all about getting the kids off the streets … We train Monday through Thursday 4 to 6:30 p.m. and anyone is welcomed to train.”