Lamont Lankford began wrestling early in his youth and eventually competed for the University of Michigan. Now his son, Eli, is putting in the time to be one of the best young boxers.
“He wanted to do it. I left it alone and he kind of took over where I left off,” said Lamont Lankford, who has a small amount of ring experience. “It’s pretty cool to see him doing it. It takes a special child to get hit. Everybody doesn’t want to get hit. You got to be able to deal with that first of all.”
Lankford’s wife, Salima, is just as comfortable with her son stepping in the ring.
“She is not one of those mothers who say ‘I don’t want my baby to get hit,’” Lamont Lankford said. “She doesn’t mind it. She has her own saying ‘if you like it, I love it.”’
With nearly five years of experience, Eli Lankford, who has a 2-1 record, is now training four days a week at Independent MMA and Fitness in Jonesboro with former amateur boxer Jason Croom.
“He is a natural to this sport,” Croom said. “He has everything you would basically need in a fighter. He has the heart, dedication and is very determined. I haven’t seen someone like that in a while.”
“Boxing helps him to be able to control his temperament and have self-motivation,” Lankford said. “It also helps him as far as confidence because he is a smaller guy.”
Lankford is a left-handed fighter and competes in the 65-pound weight class, and has improved defensively since training with Croom.
“He’s a very slick fighter,” Croom said. “He moves his head real good. He’s very tough to hit and he’s getting better at it.”
This fall, Eli Lankford will begin sixth grade at Kendrick Middle School. His father said he makes good grades and likes math and language arts.
Just like many other kids in his age group, Lankford enjoys playing basketball and video games.