It’s kind of like “The Little Engine That Could,” but with fists.
Deontay Wilder’s life story has plenty in common with the classic inspirational children’s tale about the value of persevering in the face of daunting odds—except for the little part: Wilder measures in at a giraffe-esque 6 feet 7 inches.
The towering, undefeated heavyweight has had to overcome plenty on his path to a successful career in boxing, including a late start to the sport, turning pro at age 23 after first desiring to be a football player.
But he stuck with it, and now he says that he wants to encourage kids to do the same with whatever their goals may be.
Hence, “Deontay the Future World Champ,” a newly released children’s book that Wilder has been working on for the past several years.
“The idea was to motivate the children while they’re at a younger age,” Wilder says. “So many kids are misled through TV, through everyday life. Nobody’s really teaching them at a young age to build a work ethic, to work hard.”
The book revolves around a young Deontay and the sacrifices he has to make in order to achieve his dream of becoming a boxing star.
He doesn’t get to hit the playground as much as the other kids, doesn’t get to go for ice cream with them—he’s busy keeping himself in shape.
Wilder says that while he was no angel growing up, there’s plenty of truth in the book.
“Even as a child, I was determined to be something,” he notes, delivering his words with as much gusto as one of his punches. “I was always that quiet guy, very hard-working.”
A father of three, Wilder wants to visit schools throughout the country and read his book to kids.
“It’ll be story time with the champ,” he envisions.
Beyond that, Wilder hopes that his colorful read exposes a lighter side of the heavy hitter.
“I’m enjoying that people can see my personality outside the ring and to let them know that nothing is made up, this is real,” he says. “I can be a serious fighter in the ring, but I’m more than that.”