SAN ANTONIO – David Cardenas is a senior in school, a junior at home, and a multisport athlete at Edison high school.
“He is an average basketball player. I think that is a good way of putting it,” said Martin Cardenas, head basketball coach at Edison and has no relation to David. “5’2, maybe 5’3, 106 pounds – there are a lot of obstacles to overcome on the basketball court.”
But what is not so average is David’s day. He wakes up at six in the morning and runs four and a half miles to school with his dad, David Sr., following closely behind. After eight hours of school, he heads to practice: football in the fall and basketball now.
“I go to play football and basketball too, it makes school more fun,” David Jr. said.
When practice is over and his teammates go home, David goes to another gym the boxing gym.
“I’m David Cardenas and I am a boxer.”
And he is the best in the country.
“I started training when I was six or seven probably, but I started fighting when I was eight,” David Jr. said.
“Growing up, you have kids who play sports for the goody bags,” David Sr. said. “You know, they are there for the goody bags and to have more fun. You know, some kids take it more seriously, they lose, and they get a little bit upset and they want to be better. Some kids, it doesn’t affect them anyway. He questioned me and said Hey dad, some of these kids don’t try. I said I am going to introduce you to a sport, boxing, that you don’t have to rely on anyone but yourself.”
His freshman year of high school both father and son realized the immense talent junior had for the sport of boxing.
“I had gone to a national tournament, one of my first national tournaments, without really training and I made it to the semifinals,” David Jr. said. “And I was like oh dang. If I put my heart and my mind to this, I can really stick with this.”
“For every champion there was once a contender that refuses to give up,” coach Cardenas said, remembering a quote that the team has up in the locker room. “And that is him. He refuses to give up in whatever he does.”
And a champion is what David has become – back-to-back national champion and, in December, USA Boxing ranked him the best amateur boxer in the country at 106 pounds.
18-hour days for an 18-year-old kid – because to him it is bigger than just boxing.
Reporter Matt Roy asked David Jr., “Why do you push yourself to that point?”
“So I can provide for my family,” he said as his eyes teared up. “My dad and my family who has always helped me. Because sometimes we do not have, we don’t have all of the financial stuff to get through living. So that pushes me more.”
“I love him for that. I love my son for that,” Senior said, fighting through tears. “He works hard. He deserves the best.”
David’s hard work has made him exactly that.
“The best. The best. He is really, really good and it’s scary as to how good he can actually be,” David Jr’s part-time boxing coach jeff Mays said. He is only at the tip of his full potential yet. David is in that top 00.1% of athletes.”
David will turn pro in the coming months with his family top of mind.
“You get those that say oh I want to make my dad proud; I want to make a better life for my family, that’s that driving force for a lot of boxers that are in that top percentage of great boxers in America,” Mays said.
“I feel like that will always be my motivation: to always be able to provide for my family,” David Jr. said.
“I’m just, I’m just proud of him,” David Sr. said, once again fighting to speak through his beaming pride and tears. “Sometimes, I do not think he knows how proud I am. And I just want him to know that I am proud of him.
David has the golden gloves competition coming up next weekend.
After that, he is turning pro.