Deontay Wilder grew up dreaming about playing football with the Alabama football team. But the dream came to an end with the birth of his daughter Naieya in 2005, when he was just 19, His childhood fancies gave way to adult responsibilities, as his daughter was diagnosed with spina bifida, a birth defect of the spinal column that is often debilitating.
Wilder had stacks of medical bills and a child small enough she could very nearly fit in the palm of his massive hand. He never believed his daughter- Naieya could defy the odds, breathing on her own when it was thought she would need a ventilator and abandoning her walker for a gymnastics class.
To care for his young child he had to take up a series of jobs, Red Lobster, Driving for a Company, anything to support his young family, including dropping out of a junior college where he was getting his academic life in order for an eventual transfer to Nick Saban’s University of Alabama.
After dropping out of college, Wilder still had a dream, he dreamed of something bigger than ordinary life. While football and basketball seemed out of the picture, a brainstorming session with a friend landed squarely on boxing as a potential avenue to life-changing riches, one year after the birth of his daughter.
Wilder said “I was ignorant to the sport and how it worked. I knew I had good skills, good hands, streetwise. But that only goes so far in this jungle I call the ring. I thought every man who stepped into the ring made a lot of money. I didn’t know it was a process,” Wilder said.
His love for boxing was immediate “When I walked in the door here it was love at first sight. I knew it was the right place for me. It was music to my ears. To see the speed bags, the guys sparring, to hear them socializing. It was like, ‘this is it for me.’ An opportunity to be a professional athlete.”
Wilder, who started fighting when he was 20-year-old has a professional boxing record of 41 fights, 39 knockout wins, 1 decision win and 1 draw all amassed in less than 10years.
‘The Bronze Bomber’ who risked everything to save his daughter’s life plans to quit boxing when he stops learning “Once I stop learning, that’s when I’m leaving, I set a goal only to have 10 years in this profession. But if I ever feel like there’s nothing left to learn before those 10 years come, I want to do it no more. I always want to keep learning.
To go from good to great. And then, when I get great, I want to go from excellent to magnificent. To brilliant. There are always levels—and I want to reach them all.”
In his quest to keep improving Deontay Wilder,33, took his record to 41 wins and a draw from 42 bouts on Sunday, with a sensational first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale to retain his WBC world heavyweight title for the ninth time in New York.