Deontay Wilder might be sitting on top now with his undefeated record and WBC heavyweight champion belt — but do you know that he was once just a father trying to make ends meet?
Wilder was only 19 years old when his girlfriend told him she was pregnant. Their first child, Naieya, was born with spina bifida; a genetic disorder that affects the backbone and spinal cord. Those afflicted may have difficulty with walking or other physical activities and may require a series of surgeries.
Back then, Wilder was a football and basketball star in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and had a bright future ahead but he dropped everything to provide for them. He dropped out of school and worked at fast food places to earn. But he knew it wasn’t enough, so he started going at their local boxing gym.
Earning in boxing didn’t come easy. When he started, Wilder was “like Bambi”, a fragile deer lost in the woods. He was always shaking and was exhausted after every fight. But he promised his daughter that he would become a world champion and to “support her beyond relief.”
He finally qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and won the bronze medal. He continued to flourish as an undefeated boxer; winning all his 38 fights. He ultimately achieved his promise to his daughter — to win the coveted WBC heavyweight world champion.
Wilder shared with Daily Mail UK, “Naieya came and it was a blessing in disguise because I probably wouldn’t be boxing if it weren’t for her.”
If you think I'm giving up my title you're crazy… Y'all forget that I didn't win this title for me… I won it because I promised my daughter I would be a world champion. My belt belongs to her and I'll fight whoever and wherever I need to fight to make sure it stays with her…. #Naieya #FamilyFirst #BombZquad #SpinaBifida #WorldChampion #SophiaTheBelt