Rickards’ IB student, Taylor, excelling in boxing ring
By St. Clair Murraine
Darnell Baker had a hunch about Johnny Taylor the moment the lanky teenager walked into the Brick House Boxing Club.
Taylor’s eagerness to go through the demanding workout grind was enough to let Baker, owner and trainer at Brick House, know that he had something special.
“Everything he has learned he’s executing in the proper boxing form,” Baker said. “He’s dedicated; listens very well and he does everything well.”
Taylor proved Baker’s assessment right three weekends ago when he scored a technical knockout victory to win the 154-pound division championship in the novice class of the Police Athletic League State Tournament. He qualified for the title bout by winning his previous fight by a split decision.
The victory turned around Taylor’s career that started with two straight losses. He was determined, though. He has a bigger goal of making the 2020 Olympics and the level of fighting that he is doing now is just the first step, Taylor said.
“It (the early losses) didn’t discourage me because I knew I won the fights,” he said. “I want to be champ so I kept pushing forward to my goals to go to the Olympics in four years.”
Taylor, 18, has been honing his skills in the ring for just over a year. He’s constantly improving, Baker said, and he is doing so without making boxing a distraction from his academics.
Taylor, a junior, is an International Baccalaureate student at Rickards High School. He plans to attend FAMU after graduation.
He decided to take a shot at boxing, he said, because singing and other sports lost their appeal, said Taylor, a former member of the Tallahassee Boys Choir. He left the group shortly after they performed in 2013 at President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Taylor manages his time between academics by taking care of his homework for about two hours before heading off to the gym. Sometimes he jogs so that he will be ready to get into his workout routine when arrives.
“It’s easy work but he has a strong degree of humbleness,” Baker said. “He is confident about himself but at the same time our relationship has developed in a way that he trusts me.”