Former heavyweight champion and Olympic bronze medalist Deontay Wilder has been honored by his hometown, Tuscaloosa, with a life-size statue designed by artist Caleb O’Connor. The statue was unveiled on Wednesday, May 25, at the Tuscaloosa River Market. Read on for more details.
An untraditional beginning
Most professional boxers spend their whole lives training for a career in boxing, but Deontay Wilder didn’t begin his until he was 20 years old when he walked into Skyy Boxing Gym in Northport in 2005. He trained under Jay Deas and just 3 years later, he earned the bronze medal in the heavyweight division at the 2008 Olympics, earning his nickname ‘Bronze Bomber.’
At the unveiling, Deas explained that although not many people had faith that Wilder could win against the “experienced guys,” he never had a doubt.
Despite those who were skeptical of Wilder’s abilities, he went on to hold the WBC heavyweight title from 2015 to 2020, laying out 41 of his 42 wins with his powerful right-handed punch.
Proud Tuscaloosa native
Emotions were high as Wilder was surrounded by his friends and family to celebrate this monumental moment. Members of the Tuscaloosa community including Mayor Walt Maddox, councilmen and various news outlets gathered to hear Wilder’s touching speech.
“There’s something special about coming home. I’m not talking about my residence—I have places all over. I am talking about where I’m from. That’s what’s important.”Deontay Wilder
During his speech, Wilder made sure to thank the city and let everyone know just how proud he is to be from Tuscaloosa. Anyone in the room could feel just how proud Tuscaloosa was of him as well.
More from Deontay Wilder
Wilder announced that although he has been out of the ring for 7 months spending time with his friends and family, his boxing career is far from over. “i can’t stop right here. I must continue my journey. I have to. I have to,” said Wilder on Wednesday at the ceremony.
Watch the statue unveiling here:
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