Raw Deontay Wilder hit the gym at 20 and began knocking everyone out

Deontay Wilder young

Skyy Boxing

Deontay Wilder found it hard to discover his purpose in life until walking into a gym at the age of 20 and completely changing his path.

‘The Bronze Bomber’ was a tall, skinny kid from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with no prospects until stumbling across a young coach called Jay Deas.

That fateful day would alter Wilder’s future and change the course of the heavyweight division forever.

Describing how it all went down, the man who went on to reign for five years remembers his 2005 introduction to the sport well.

“When I walked in, I felt like I was in the right place,” said Wilder when speaking to the We Need Counseling Podcast. “Man, that feeling like, this is what you are supposed to be.

“I told Jay Deas, who owned the gym, that I wanted to box. At that time, I’m just this lanky guy coming in. But in his mind, he’s thinking, “well, the basketball court is down the street. You aren’t going to survive in this jungle right here.

“He didn’t know that I was coming there for a reason. One of the rare cases that God would bless his gym with me to walk in there.

“Sometimes, it could be that there’s a blessing at the door. But it passes you by because you are too busy to see it.

“But for him, I was that blessing for his gym and the state of Alabama.

“My trainer said he knew I had something in me.”

Deontay Wilder
Skyy Boxing

Asked by host Dougie Cash about stories of him whooping the other fighters in the gym that had been there for much longer than him, Wilder answered: “Everyone. The guys who have been in there for five years, I’m dropping them.

“You see, I was only sparring with pros,” he pointed out.


Sixteen years on, and Wilder is now at a crossroads in his career. It follows his first defeat at Tyson Fury’s hands.

A return to action is on the cards for the summer, with several names in the hat before a potential battle with Andy Ruiz Jr. later this year.

All roads lead to Wilder’s possible redemption against whoever comes out on top of an undisputed unification between Fury and Anthony Joshua.

If Wilder can overcome two years of adversity, the rewards will far outweigh the losses along the way.

That skinny kid with a dream undoubtedly still has that fire in his belly.

Phil Jay is the Editor of WBN. An Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America since 2018. And a member of the Sports Journalists’ Association. Follow on Twitter @PhilJWBN.