From boxing to politics, Tony Drake shares about growing up in Sioux City

Hidden History

He has accomplished a lot in the community, but it all began from an interesting place.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Tony Drake was a famous boxer in Sioux City who went on to become the first minority Sioux City city councilman. He shares his story of growing up in Sioux City, Iowa. 

“If you have a dream you can make it happen right here in Sioux City. That’s how confident I am. If you really want to do something, Sioux City is the place to do it. I believe in Sioux City. I love Sioux City. I am Sioux City,” said Drake.  

Tony Drake has lived in Sioux City since he was a kid. He has accomplished a lot in the community, but it all began in an interesting place.

“I would have never got into boxing had I not been bullied as a kid,” said Drake. 

Drake said it was being picked on for being biracial that got him into the ring. 

“Boxing taught me about temperance and about people and how everyone is a little different. In the ring your ethnicity means nothing when you are like me, you know you’re black, you’re Italian, so it doesn’t mean a lot because there is a place you can go,” said Drake. 

Drake won numerous awards for boxing and, in 1966, took his skills to the Army. 

“I got to fight some of those people representing the Army over there in Vietnam. So that kinda saved me a little bit, but I had my last fight in Vietnam, my 13th fight on Friday the 13th. I was a little superstitious but I won the fight,” said Drake. 

Once he hung up his gloves, Drake moved on to share his talent with young people from backgrounds similar to his.

“The mere fact that I could teach that to someone else was really good, because I was passing on a gift that I had gotten from someone else and these people were in similar situations. They were always getting picked on so they came to my boxing program and a lot of them turned out to be very professional people,” said Drake. 

Drake eventually used the life lessons he learned from boxing to become an entrepreneur. 

“It was kinda crazy to go from boxing to cooking. I mean who does that?” said Drake. 

Drake opened two businesses, Tony’s Professional Service and Tony’s BBQ, one still exists today.

“My dad was in the janitorial business and I swore once I got away from that and got out of school I would never do that again but here I am still doing the kind of cleaning that people have to have,” said Drake. 

As a businessman, Drake decided to throw his hat into the political ring. In 1999, he ran for Sioux City city council. 

“We won and I was in shock. Here I was going to be the first minority on the city council in Sioux City, Iowa. That was such a big dream for me and I was kinda numb even after they had told me I had won the election,” said Drake. 

It was an experience, Drake said, that will last a lifetime. 

“I am proud and tickled that I had the privilege enough to be able to go and do the things I did. Being on city council was fun because I learned a lot about people and I learned all about politics and pressure and a lot of good times and sometimes they weren’t so good, because we were arguing about everyday rights for citizens and citizens don’t always do the right thing,” said Drake.

From his days as a boxer, to his days on city council, Drake said Sioux City has changed.

“It’s more diverse now than it ever has been but even today as it is we still have that racial thing going on but I think education is what is going to cure that,” said Drake. 

Drake said, if he had to it all again, he wouldn’t change a thing. 

“I’m very blessed when my time comes and I’m gonna be done on earth. I’m gonna be full circle with a lot of people that have touched me and a lot of people that I have touched. I feel so fortunate that is something money can’t buy,” said Drake. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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