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The Pope Is Dope

By Robert Ecksel on December 25, 2019


I can picture Wilder in the Colosseum. It’s a natural. When do the tee-shirts go on sale?

The Pope is Dope. Pope Francis is dope. The job comes with baggage. He may not be Muhammad Ali storming the Bastille, but with his head in the clouds and feet on earth in exact proportion, Francis inches the intractable toward liberating liberation theology.


Power speaks a language all its own. Were it not for power, we wouldn’t know about Pope Francis. Were it not for power, Deontay Wilder would be another bum in the park. These two heavyweights, men from opposite ends of the spectrum but each at the top of his game, got together for a meet and greet between Wilder and Pope Francis in Vatican City.


After his second explosive stoppage of Luis Ortiz last month in Las Vegas, Wilder received a phone call from Mauricio Sulaiman. The WBC president thanked the WBC champion for his orgy of destruction. Wilder thanked him back. There was something else. Sulaiman had an offer that was too good to refuse.


“When I got the call from Mauricio,” Wilder told, “that was the connection to see the Pope. When they asked us to do that, we decided to make a trip out of it, get a little vacation and a quick turnaround.


“I had a beautiful vacation, we met Pope Francis, it was such a tremendous honor to be there. I got to stand in The Colosseum—man, the whole journey was just checking off [the] bucket list.”


I can picture Wilder in the Colosseum. It’s a natural. When do the tee-shirts go on sale? The 6-foot-9-inch knockout artist from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had not yet traveled to the far corners the world and was humbled in the presence of the Pope.


“It was such a tremendous honor to talk to him,” Wilder said. “He’s a big boxing fan as well. It was just incredible to be around so many important people, so many different people and families getting along and interacting even through language barriers.


“It was just so amazing to see. man, I’m still talking about this trip. Every time I go to another country, the people are so passionate, they embrace you. They lift you up. It’s almost like the opposite back home, where so many egos get in the way and people want to hold you down.”

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