Let your fists do the talking
By Robert Ecksel on February 6, 2020
“I’m big on my people, as everyone should be for theirs.” (Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Deontay Wilder should let his fists do the talking.
With Black History Month, whose roots date back a century, being celebrated across the nation, the WBC heavyweight champion has seen fit to proclaim himself the best African-American boxer in the world. He didn’t need a poll to reach that conclusion. All he needs is a gullible public and press who take whatever he says seriously, as if his every utterance was the gospel truth.
“It’s me,” said Wilder, dismissing the many superb African-American fighters in our sport. “I believe in myself, strongly. While I’m the heavyweight champion of the world, I display this to people. I lead by example.”
Leading by example is the way to go. But in which direction Wilder is leading the “people” isn’t any more clear than the draw he was rewarded when he fought Tyson Fury, with whom he rematches on February 22.
“This is going to be an amazing time for me because it’s Black History Month,” he said, playing the race card with all the panache of a Mississippi riverboat gambler. “After this fight with Fury, I’m going to make him a Black History trivia question.”
Dissing Fury may satisfy Wilder’s more rabid fans, who believe he’s as clever as he is successful. But it’s more complicated than they, and perhaps even Wilder, is capable of understanding with any depth or compassion.
“This fight means so much to me. I’m appreciative of the opposition in front of me. I’m big on my people, as everyone should be for theirs. You have to love your own.”
Having rejected loving everyone, while establishing that “my people” does not include Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, or anyone else whose hue does not resemble his own, Wilder’s proceeded to lecture even those of us who know that everyone is out of Africa about his motivation, which he insists is superior to everyone else’s.
“We get discouraged in our own self because we worry about what others will say,” continued Wilder. “How do you know? Who are you to say it? I’m going to do what my capabilities are. Have you put in the work? Have you sacrificed? We get discouraged as people because of our peers’ opinions. When you get involved with other people’s opinions, then you are going to stray from the game plan … Many people will say respect is earned, and I’ve done my fair share of earning that.”
With bluster having become the default mode in a degraded time, the notion of a strong, silent type is an anomaly. But some things never go out of style, like racism, for example, which is a two-way street, and a wrong turn, or a wrong turn of phrase, is the quickest road to nowhere.