Not everyone gets a life-sized effigy made in their image for posterity.

Not everyone, of course, is Deontay Wilder.

The former heavyweight titlist and Olympic bronze medalist from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was seriously considering hanging up the gloves after his knockout loss to Tyson Fury in their trilogy last October. But Wilder, 36, apparently had a change of heart after he witnessed a public unveiling of a life-size statue made in his likeness last May in his hometown. A visibly emotional Wilder could be seen greeting the honor with delight in videos that captured the moment.  

Were it not for that special occasion, Wilder, in a recent interview, said he may have called it a day. Instead, the hard hitting heavyweight is set to return to the ring for the first time in a year against Robert Helenius Oct. 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. On top of that, Wilder has insisted he now wants to fight all-comers, including the likes of Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua, and unified champion Oleksandr Usyk. Wilder said he was moved—and rejuvenated—by the outpouring of support and adoration he received during the public ceremony for his statue, which indicated to him that he needed to continue boxing as a pursuit.


“What really got me back to this point [was the realization], like, damn, the world really needs me,” Wilder said on The Last Stand podcast with Brian Custer. “I really motivate people. Although I’ve already known [that], even more so … when I got my statue man – When I got my statue, and that set all my accomplishments in stone, you’re looking at a walking, living legend. No matter what, my supporters or my haters, when all talk dies, that statue stay risen. You feel me? That statue stay there forever ‘til God comes and takes it away or some type of disaster happens … to see so many people come [for the unveiling] and women and see men break down and show their vulnerable side – I love that.”

Wilder said the tell tale clue that told him he no longer wanted to fight was when he found himself lacking the urge to go to the gym shortly after his last fight to Fury, which ended with Wilder brutally knocked out on the canvas in the 11th round. Having earned a title and untold millions thus far in his boxing career, Wilder was convinced retirement was a reasonable proposition.

“Many times I sat back and thought would I go back to the ring or not,” Wilder said. “Many times before I used to think ‘when are you gonna be done? Is this it.’ And sometimes you’ll sit and a week will go by, two weeks go by, and then you’ll get that urge to get back to the gym, wanna go back and hit something, wanna be around the sweat, the smell of the gym. All that, the whole atmosphere of it.

“This time around it was different. I didn’t feel that urge. I didn’t feel that sense of wanting to hit, going to the gym and smell the atmosphere and sweat and the conversations of boxing, all those different things I didn’t feel it. And for months I didn’t feel that urge. I didn’t really know if I was going to return. When you’re a successful Black man as myself and what I’ve not only on the inside but the outside of the ring it’s hard to just really – do you go back? Especially when you don’t need the business anymore.

“Do you go back? Because most fighters in this business are only in it to come out of poverty. We want to be able to get ourselves out of a bad situation and support our families first and foremost. When you have achieved so much and have done that and you’re straight, it’s like why go back? You don’t see anybody with a silver spoon … come into boxing. That’s why [the sport] consists of guys that have been locked up, [or come from] rural areas, dope dealers, murderers, anything you have in prison you gon’ find in the business.”