The city of Tuscaloosa presented Deontay "The Bronze Bomber" Wilder, the champion boxer and Druid City native, with his own statue in a ceremony at the River Market on Wednesday afternoon.

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Organized by the city and Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports, the ceremony included an hour-long meet-and-greet with the legendary fighter and featured Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox along with other local officials.

"Today, as a city, we honor and celebrate a WBC heavyweight champion," said Mayor Maddox, "whose name is etched with people like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson."

"When you think about that, that is absolutely amazing and this young man in one of Tuscaloosa, Alabama's and Central High School's own."

The statue was completed by fellow Tuscaloosa resident Caleb O'Connor, whose other works can be seen in the city's downtown Federal Courthouse building as well as at Manderson Landing.

Wilder's life-size sculpture, cast in bronze in honor of his nickname, will reside at the River Market where the ceremony was held.

"No matter how far or short I went, [even in] other countries, when they talk about Deontay Wilder, they know it's Tuscaloosa, Alabama," Wilder said at the ceremony.

"And still, to this day, this is my home and I feel like there's no other place to say it's where 'I'm going home'... there's no better feeling."

Wilder has been representing the 'City of Champions' on the world stage since competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a 23-year-old. He won a bronze medal during his only Olympic appearance, earning the monicker "The Bronze Bomber," before turning professional in the same year.

The 6-foot-7 Central High School graduate started his boxing career much later than most professionals, working numerous local hourly-wage jobs before first stepping into a boxing gym at the age of 20.

Wilder's first daughter, Naieya, was born in 2005 with a spinal disorder known as spina bifida, and he picked up the sport while taking classes at Shelton State Community College in hopes of providing financial stability for his young family.

The heavyweight holds a career record of 42-2-1 with 41 of his finishes coming by way of a knockout. He won the World Boxing Championship's heavyweight title in 2015 by decision and defended the belt on ten occasions before falling to Tyson Fury in February of 2022.

Wilder was the first American boxer to win the title since 2007 and, upon victory, was given a key to the city by Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in June of the same year.

For more from J.R. and all of the talented staff at Tide 100.9, make sure to check out our content at tide1009.com and on the Tide 100.9 app.

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