Deontay Wilder: The Boxer Who Didn't Want To Fight06:34

Deontay Wilder says he chose boxing as a career to better provide for his family. (David A. Smith/Getty Images)
Deontay Wilder says he chose boxing as a career to better provide for his family. (David A. Smith/Getty Images)
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"I definitely got into a lot of fights when I was a kid," Deontay Wilder says. "I never understood it. I was one of those quiet kids. I never picked with no one."

Wilder is the current WBC heavyweight champion, and he'll try to defend his title for the third time on Jan. 16 against Artur Szpilka in New York. Wilder tells Only A Game that he never planned to be a boxer.

"No matter how many fights I got into, I was always the victor. I didn't like it though. I remember being 12 years old, and I looked in the sky and I said, 'God, I don't want to fight no more. I'm tired of fighting. I know what I want to do in my life, and fighting's not going to get me there.'"

Wilder wanted to play college football for the Alabama Crimson Tide. But while he was in community college, Wilder's daughter was born with Spina Bifida. That's when the future "Bronze Bomber" found boxing, a sport that would take him to the 2008 Olympics and beyond.

"When I was up in college, I had a friend, and he was the only guy who knew I wasn't going to be able to attend school no more because I had a child on the way. I remember we was right at the lunch table. I was like, 'Man, I should start boxing.' I felt like every fighter that's on TV made a lot of money. I was like, 'You gotta make a lot of money.' When I walked into the doors of the gym, I heard the angels playing the music, 'Hall-e-lu-ja, Halleluja.' And I knew it — when I walked into there — I knew I was in the right place at the right time in my life."

Wilder shares what happened next, In His Own Words. To hear the full story, click the play button below the headline at the top of the page. 

This segment aired on January 9, 2016.


Zoë Sobel Production Assistant
Zoë Sobel was formerly a production assistant in WBUR's newsroom.





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