Tuscaloosa means ‘Black Warrior’ in a native American language.

Legends are made in the western Alabama city, according to a banner hanging on a factory building displaying the face of its resident WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.

Local college football colours decorate the houses en route to the Skyy Boxing Gym, where BBC Sport was invited to meet the city’s spirited fighter as he prepares to face Briton Tyson Fury at the Los Angeles Staples Center on Saturday.

The ‘Bronze Bomber’ talked about his family motivations, his vision of a future on movie screens, and how he has already taken steps to put his name alongside the legendary George Foreman.

Wilder’s trainer Jay Deas quit his job as a TV crime reporter in Florida to set up the boxing gym with his brother Tommy – who was also a news reporter – in 1995.

Ten years later, Deas met a 21-year-old Wilder and was amazed by his raw punch, which would serve him well as he went on to claim Olympic bronze for the USA in Beijing three years later.

And the natural power Deas mentions has been devastating in delivering 39 knockouts from 40 bouts, including the coveted green and gold WBC title which he claimed from Bermane Stiverne in 2015.

“I knew I had the power but once I saw it in the ring again and again, I was like: ‘Damn!'” Wilder, 33, tells BBC Sport. “It’s brought me a lot of money but the frustrating part is when the arm needs to recover.”

Deas also quickly picked up on Wilder’s drive to provide for his daughter, Naieya, who has spina bifida.

Now 13, Naieya was born in the same year her father started boxing – and Wilder says he may not have even taken up the sport seriously had it not been for her. The fighter dropped out of college and held down two restaurant jobs and drove a truck in order to take care of his “blessing in disguise”.

“When Deontay first came to the gym and once I built a rapport with him – because he often kept to himself – he told me about his daughter, Naieya, and he was so determined to be there for her and provide everything she needed through boxing,” Deas says.




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