Deontay Wilder is still recovering from injuries sustained in his last fight, but the heavyweight champion was plenty active over the weekend in Washington, D.C.
On Thursday, the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native attended the Congressional Black Caucus along with Terri Sewell, who in 2010 became the first black woman from Alabama elected to Congress.
“It was empowering and a warm feeling to be able to see so many successful black people and to be in their presence,” Wilder said. “[Terri] and I talked, mostly about my career, my [injured] hand and other things.”
Wilder also went to Alexandria, Virginia, to visit the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church, which was founded in 1818, and the Contrabands and Freedman Cemetery, the burial place for about 1,800 African-Americans who fled to Alexandria to escape slavery during the Civil War.
“The Bronze Bomber” also toured the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C.’s West Potomac Park, just southwest of the National Mall.
Along with receiving inspiration on his trip to the nation's capital, Wilder was able to deliver some motivation, as well. After appearing Friday on the Redskins Nation TV show with host Larry Michael, the 30-year-old heavyweight champ then addressed the Washington Redskins at practice, focusing largely on how he overcame a broken right hand and a right biceps injury to stop Chris Arreola in eight rounds in July.
“When Deontay started talking, every man on that field locked in and listened to every word,” said Wilder’s business manager, Rodney Rice. “Deontay brought up the fact that he was hurt but kept going to win his last fight, because that’s what champions do. I said to myself, ‘This is a true leader and a champion.’ It was an unbelievable moment.”
Wilder, who stuck around to attend the Redskins’ 27-23 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, said he was recently cleared to start light training after a September 8 procedure in which several pins were removed from his surgically repaired right hand.
“They made sure that the healing process is on point with my hand and biceps,” Wilder said. “There are still some screws in my pinkie, the last finger that has to be healed.
“I’m just trying to get flexibility, movement and strength back in my arm. I can bend it, but it’s not yet straight. A calcium buildup was preventing my hand from twisting over, so the [rehabilitation] consists of straightening my arm out and rotating my wrist about three times a day.”
Wilder said he anticipates returning to the ring in early 2017.
“I first want to unify the division against Tyson Fury, Wladimir Klitschko or Anthony Joshua, if not my mandatory against [Bermane] Stiverne or [Alexander] Povetkin,” Wilder said. “But this is the third time I’ve broken my hand after not allowing it to properly heal. I’m looking forward to getting back into the ring, but I’m not rushing myself.”