From Underdog to Heavyweight: Deontay Wilder Defends His Title

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WBC Heavyweight Champion of the World Deontay Wilder, nicknamed the “Bronze Bomber,” is set to defend his title for the second time in his home state of Alabama on September 26.

Transformed from underdog to heavyweight champion in just nine years, 29-year-old Wilder will fight Johann Duhaupas live from the Legacy Arena in Birmingham.

Wilder got his start boxing at age 21—long after most boxers have already honed their skills. He began with Golden Gloves competitions, before moving onto USA Boxing Nationals, and eventually became a Bronze medalist in the Olympics.

“Many people doubted me. Many people said I wouldn’t make it far. Many people say I was too old,” said Wilder. “But, you know, I definitely feel that that everybody got a purpose in life and boxing is for me.”

As a high school athlete, Deontay Wilder dreamed of playing college football or basketball for the Crimson Tide. His plans were derailed at age 19 when his girlfriend gave birth to their daughter Naieya, who was born with a rare disorder called spina bifida.

Caring for Naieya took first priority for Deontay and he dropped out of school, got two jobs and focused on a boxing career. His dedication and talent has made him the first American world heavyweight champion in nearly a decade.

The fight airs Saturday, September 26 on NBC at 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT and will stream here.

WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder, known as the "Brozne Bomber" grew up in Tuscaloosa Alabama.Andrea Morales / for NBC News