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Why isn’t America behind Deontay Wilder?

In the lead-up to the pay-per-view clash between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury for the WBC heavyweight title, live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ca, Fury is going the extra mile in gamesmanship. Fury left the fighters hotel on Wednesday afternoon and walked around downtown Los Angeles only to ask strangers if they knew who Deontay Wilder was and most said “NO!”

So we want to take a small part of your day talk through why that might be and why boxing fans in general are so mixed on the American heavyweight champion.

he isn’t good”

A common trope with Deontay Wilder from fans and especially people within the boxing industry from trainers to fighters themselves is the lack of technical know-how, Wilder uses in his bouts. Wilder is unconventional and without his power, which may be the hardest punch ever in the sport of boxing, he might be a journeyman based off his skillset. Wilder has only displayed a jab in one fight against Bermane Stiverne to win the WBC heavyweight title in 2015 and even then it was awkward jab, not really a versatile jab. Even in the amateurs, Wilder used his power, explosiveness and speed to beat foes as he has defied norms and conventions in boxing.

In short, a lot of writers, fans and people in the boxing world, belittle Wilder since they doubt that he can do simple boxing maneuvers and still be on balance to punch, which more often than not he can’t.The otherside, which I tend to fall on, is how incredible it is someone is able to continue to win using his own style of fighting.

The most common reason that I hear people belittling or mocking Wilder is that his punches come from anywhere, often void of a jab and that he uses power and athletism to beat his opponents. They view Wilder as a man that luck has fallen upon, but that luck will surely run out on him soon.

Detractors will point to bouts Wilder had with Artur Szpilka and Gerald Washington, where up until Wilder got the knockout, he was losing the bout as he was getting outboxed soundly. Though good opponents, Szpilka and Washington are viewed as a tier below the elite heavyweights of Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Luis Ortiz, making some question why Wilder should be included in the group despite having a world title and a win over Luis Ortiz in his last bout.

Awkward Statements

Even if you’re the biggest Deontay Wilder fan, you can’t help, but admit he had some boo-boo’s in the PR department. Wilder this year went on The Breakfest Club, a New York based radio show, and said he wanted to kill a man in the ring. Considering he has won every bout except for one by knockout, often brutally, the statement comes off as malice, heartless and also makes the sport of boxing which is viewed as corputed and sketchy to the general public, even worse.

Wilder, even when in the right can be very emotional and though I enjoy the passion, Wilder shows, I can see how it can be unsettling. Wilder is a constant underdog, someone who was not suppose to be 2008 Bronze Medal U.S. Olympian, someone who was not supposed to headline major pay-per-view card, but defied the odds. Part of his passion is the same drive that got him to overachieve, and that passion in part is a bit bonkers and unsettling.

 

Talks About Race in America

It is no secret that talking about race in America during Donald Trump’s tenure as President is both common and uncommon at the same time. As the acts of Colin Kaepernick’s social protest in the National Football League against the treatment of black men and women in America has raised awareness to decades of unlawful treatment, Wilder a 6-foot-7-inch knockout artist talking about black plight while sports journalist and fans want to hear him talk about a boxing match might be unsettling. Though Mike Tyson made a career out of it, in his second chapter, Wilder is from the rural south, a place in which racism is much real and though systemic, it is also much more in your face and it appears a Wilder elevates he wants to bring what he saw growing up to the surface.

Above an interview asked Wilder about a statement Wilder made over decades black folk struggling in what we assume America, Wilder lost it as the interview was a black man and Wilder perceived it as someone trying to bait him for a video that would go viral. Well, Wilder played into, but what the reporter got was a disgusted Wilder looking at the reporter frustrated that he didn’t understand the intention of Wilder’s actions as he felt, he represent that man as well and eventually walked off ending all further interviews.

In short, Wilder brings up uncomfortable topics in awkward ways that can be viewed in many different contexts, which doesn’t help him at times.

He Is Who He Is

Love him or hate him, Deontay Wilder isn’t the creation of a marketing team or a generic political correct boxer, he is a flawed unique person, who always those watching him to see the many dimensons of himself. In many ways, Wilder is like the anti-Ray Leonard, from the fighting style to his answers on any subject.

Wilder is a unique fixture and one as I cover him this fight week, I am growing to love since he is genuine and honest about his beliefs. Wilder truly believes come Saturday evening he will knockout Tyson Fury, and you can feel the confidence he has. In many ways, he has a bit of the samething Muhammad Ali had going for himself at the time of his dominance, other than Wilder has not sat out during his prime for civil protest. Ali was considered unruly, ignornant and also “not a real” boxer, similar phrases thrown around with Wilder.

Now I didn’t write this think piece just to make you love Wilder, he is a complex charchter, who even I have mixed emotions with, but I think the reason Deontay Wilder isn’t catching on in America says a little bit more about society as whole and the world we live in today than it does about Wilder. Maybe, he could have been promoted a bit more, but some people crossover and some people don’t, time will be the best judge to see how Wilder’s legacy will look.

Also, in a capitilist society, one that has an eroding middle-class, is it possible for a star to present that represents the poorest demographic, statistically, is this even possible?

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle