Just who is Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder and how come no one outside the great state of Alabama recognizes the name? I mean, Wilder should be starring in shaving commercials or serving as grand marshal at parades or endorsing sneakers. There should be playgrounds named after him and the governor of Alabama should declare a state holiday in Wilder’s honor. He should be smiling back at us from a Wheaties box if they still do that kind of thing.
It’s not Wilder’s fault he doesn’t draw a big crowd when he walks down Broadway. After all, he’s the WBC heavyweight champion of the world and today, that’s like being the mayor of Sheboygan. Everybody in town knows who you are. Just don’t leave the city limits.
I always said what the fight game needs in this part of the world is another heavyweight champion who was also an American citizen. Mike Tyson was pretty good, being from Brooklyn and all. He got people talking about the fight game in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Sure, he had some control issues, but we have a tendency to overlook bad behavior when it’s accompanied by athletic greatness. And if you knock everyone out in your division by the time you’re 20, that’s greatness. People are going to notice you and talk about you, bad attitude and all.
Or at least they used to.
That brings us back to Wilder, who defends his WBC title Saturday on SHOWTIME from Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. The undefeated Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) faces Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina (23-2, 17 KOs) of Raymondville, Texas in a rare, world heavyweight championship fight right here at home. It’s nice to have a heavyweight title fight in a city we can spell, pronounce, find on a map and get to by car or bus.
Why fight in Alabama? Well, Wilder is from Tuscaloosa. He wants to be close to home for this fight, share it with the neighborhood kids. Let the guys at Budweiser and IHOP go to the fight ad cheer him on. Besides, if you don’t count the University of Alabama football team, there isn’t a lot of professional sports going on in the state.
What’s good about Wilder is, he’s Mike Tyson in the ring, but he’s Stuart Smalley outside it.
On his way to the top of the heavyweight division, he worked at IHOP, Red Lobster and Budweiser after dropping out of college to help pay his daughter’s medical expenses.
“The most interesting job was as a delivery driver for Budweiser,” Wilder said in a press release listing 10 things you should know about heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. “I was still an amateur boxer. I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning and I had to lift multiple amounts of beer. They probably put 1,000 cases of beer on my truck. I considered that a morning workout.”
Along with financially supporting a gym for kids in Coffeyville, Alabama, and teaching them how to box in his spare time, he also wrote a children’s book about winning the heavyweight title.
“It’s more of an inspirational book to let kids know that you have to work hard for whatever you want and you can’t give up,” he said. “Don’t let peer pressure stop you from accomplishing your goals. I probably will write another children’s book because I love kids and I love being a father.”
Being heavyweight champion of the world isn’t too bad either. He won the WBC title on Jan. 17 with a one-sided decision over Bermane Stiverne at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
How come there aren’t any statues of this guy? His picture should be on 10 dollar bills. He should be chosen “Man of the Year.” Everywhere.
“We’re going to make history (Saturday) by having the first title fight of any division in the state of Alabama,” Wilder said. “And that’s a pleasure and definitely an honor to me.”
That’s who Deontay Wilder is.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME