Hip-Hop Junkie: Boxer Deontay Wilder Is a Heavyweight Champion of Freestyling
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is a pro at throwing jabs and hooks—both inside and outside of the boxing ring. The undefeated 32-year-old prizefighter from Tuscaloosa, Ala., has made a career out of devastating any opponent who has squared up with him, winning by knockout in 38 of 39 contests.
When he's not brutalizing lesser fighters, the self-proclaimed Bronze Bomber is a bully on rap instrumentals. Along with his friends, Wilder spends downtime kicking rhymes off the dome over popular rap instrumentals to songs by the likes of YFN Lucci and Migos. He's got the utmost appreciation for the art form, and major MCs feel a mutual respect, too. In November, 50 Cent walked Wilder out in his fight against Bermane Stiverne, performing his Get Rich or Die Tryin' classic "Many Men." The bout ended in a first-round K.O.
Wilder hints that he has another special surprise guest for his next fight, a March 3 bout against Cuban boxer Luis Ortiz taking place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (the fight will also air on Showtime). While he says his entrance will be a first of its kind, he's more concerned with making history inside of the ropes.
"We got an American who is an ass whooper," Wilder tells XXL. "That's what I do: I whoop ass and take names. I'm looking forward to the future—claiming my throne, staying undefeated, and unifying the whole division where there will be one champion, one face, one name, and that's Deontay Wilder."
Deontay Wilder spoke with XXL about his upcoming fight, how he floored 50 Cent and his favorite beats for kicking rhymes.
XXL: What are you anticipating about your upcoming title fight with Luis Ortiz?
I'm anticipating a great fight overall. The first round is going to be very interesting with me and Ortiz getting in the ring, sizing each other up, adjusting to each other's styles. It's going to be a very competitive fight while it lasts. I'm not looking to make this fight last long so people can get their money's worth. People know when they see Deontay Wilder fight, they're going to be sitting on the edge of their seats. With a Deontay Wilder fight, you just never know when it's gonna come. When I whooped [Bermane Stiverne's] ass again, that was meant for Luis Ortiz. [Ortiz] was on [performance-enhancing drugs]—he messed it up. But we are again. He ain't never been in the ring with a vicious guy, a natural killer instinct. I cannot wait to solidify my name and my position in this sport, to let these people know that I mean business.
50 Cent walked you out in your previous fight against Stiverne and later joked that the fight was over before he made it to his seat.
Yeah, we talk about that still to this day. I'm going in there to try to knock your head off as fast as I can. Because I'm no longer Deontay Wilder no more; I'm the Bronze Bomber. And the Bronze Bomber is a savage dude.
How did you link up with 50 and why did you chose to have him perform "Many Men" as your entrance music?
We've got a relationship—my brother has a more strong relationship with him than I do. That's how I started hanging around to get to know him. We thought it would be cool with me being in New York, fighting Bermane again. He was a former champion talking in the press conference about how he's going to beat the shit out of me, he's going to kill me—that means he's wishing death on me. So it was perfect to come out to "Many men, many, many, many, many men, wish death on me, Lord I don't cry no more... Lord have mercy on me." He wanted me to go and I wanted the same for him, so we're asking God to have mercy on my soul because I'm about to destroy him. So that was the perfect song to come out to.
50 is a good dude, and he's a big boxing fan and a big boxing fan of mine as well. So it was meant to happen. We're definitely forever grateful for him. We'll see what happens this time. We've got something good coming up this time as well. Something that—if it goes through—has never been done before. So I'm looking forward to coming out with this particular artist.
What are you listening to before your fights and in your workouts?
I'm the type of person where I like my peace. I'm a peaceful soul. So the more quiet it is, the better, because I'm into meditating and visualization. When I'm training, I like to listen to love music, R&B, some rock. Most of the time it's R&B and old-school funk in the gym. Because boxing is an art. It's a sweet science. And I like to make love to that art. I let the music take my body and emotions away. It puts me in another zone to where I can relax. I consider myself kind of a weird dude when it comes to perfecting my craft and what I do to perfect that in my own time.
Do you listen to hip-hop outside of the gym?
Of course I listen to rap. I like whatever sounds good, all types of artists, I like listening to Kevin Gates, but most times I'd rather not mention it because there are so many names—you can forget names. I love to sit back and dissect music. Situations that may be going on in my life, it influences you or it may be something that you may be going through that you can relate to and feel it that much more.
Do you ever rap or freestyle yourself?
Yeah, for sure. We do it all the time, man. Chillin' with the boys, vibing and all of a sudden you hear a fire-ass beat. We do it in the gym, at home—it's nothing like letting people know what's on your mental. But I tell people all the time that even when I speak—whether it's in a small crowd or big crowd—I don't use my mind. I use my heart. And I let my mouth be the translator to what my heart tells me. So if I'm being put on the spot, if I'm speaking from my heart, then you gotta know it's real what I'm telling you.
What type of beats are your favorite to rap to?
We'll go look up different instrumentals. Drake has nice beats, Kevin Gates is around nice beats, Migos—they be on some fire beats. YFN Lucci be on some nice little beats too. Youngboy NBA. You listen to the all-around beats, from trap music to people that's well-thought-out and put time in their music and spread positive messages. We don't discriminate. When you hear the beat, you already like, "Ah, shit, we on one now! Damn, this beat hard as fuck!" Some beats just take your soul and make you automatically come off the dome and start flowing with it. Even R&B music; we listen to a couple of beats that they be having. Music is music. Sometimes we can be observers—we can sit back and observe things that have happened to us and tell the story. Whether it's a great positive situation or a negative situation.
Mike Tyson famously laid vocals for Canibus' 1998 song, "Second Round K.O." Would you ever guest on a rap song?
Most definitely. I've got a lot of friends in the music industry. Sometimes I do voiceovers and different things. I enjoy music, I enjoy the art of how they create in that mindset. I look at music as a thing that gives the voiceless a voice. If you want to spread a message, if you want to get something across, music is the ultimate outlet. It's a powerful vessel to obtain, especially when you're good at it. Rappers want to be athletes and athletes want to be rappers—it's always been like that.
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