…Says I want to see my culture, my ancestors and learn a lot of things
Former WBC heavyweight boxing champion, Deontay Wilder has restated his earlier plans to embark on a trip to Nigeria after tracing his ancestry to the Edo tribe sometime last year.
Wilder, an American boxer who once held the heavyweight title from 2015 to 2020 before his loss to Tyson Fury, stated this in the US.
Born in Alabama, the 36-year-old had no known ties to Nigeria before his recent claim in 2021.
He had revealed back in 2021 that he was planning a trip to four cities in Africa; including Nigeria, where he had traced his ancestry to the Edo tribe.
“My tribe is the Edo Tribe, I want to go back and learn a little bit more about my culture. I want to really see my culture, go back to my ancestors and learn a lot of things,” he said.
“We have lots of things we are connected to and don’t even know about. The Edo people are warriors, stone-cold warriors.”
This is not the first time Wilder is claiming to be connected to Nigeria. Ahead of his first and second fights against Fury, Wilder referred to himself as ‘part Nigerian’ several times.
Speaking in a YouTube video that went viral, Wilder admitted tracing his roots to Edo and promised he would love to “come back home to learn about the culture of the place.”
“I want to go back and learn more about my culture and information with things about me. Once I’m done with what I’m doing, I’m going back to see my tribe, Edo.
“I want to see my culture and my ancestors and learn a lot of things. We all have lots of things that we are connected to that we know nothing about. I’ll love to go there and do research about my roots and my tribe,” observed Wilder in the video.
Wilder, who adopted the moniker “Bronze Bomber”, enjoyed a five-year reign as the WBC heavyweight champion between 2015 and 2020, losing his strap in a bout with British heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in February 2020.
In a much anticipated trilogy, with boxing lovers worldwide on the edge of their seats, Fury beat Wilder yet gain, in a pulsating encounter which saw both boxers hitting the canvass twice each before Fury finally took out Wilder in the 11th round.
It is not immediately clear if Wilder’s realisation of his roots informed his moniker, “Bronze Bomber.”
Another Edo-born Mixed Martial Art UFC Welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, visited Nigeria recently after over 20 years absence.
Fondly called the “Nigerian Nightmare”, Kamaru has promised to assist youths in the country reach their potentials through the funding of a mixed martial art academy.
Several top boxers with successful careers in the heavyweight category have their roots in Nigeria. Apart from Joshua, Samuel Peters, Herbie Hyde and Ike Ibeabuchi, Efe Ajagba’s career is gradually gathering steam.
In a related development and in response to Wilder’s claim, Edo State Sports Commission former chairman, Godwin Dudu-Orumen, had stated that the state would gladly welcome Deontay Wilder whenever he chose to visit Nigeria.
Dudu-Orumen said the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, and the people of Edo would be pleased to welcome the son of the land, Wilder back home.
He said, “Deontay Wilder will be highly welcome because Governor Obasaeki is interested in creating role models for our youths to distract them from many of the things that are creating criminalities and problems.
“The more of such people who will engage the government on the platform of sports are always welcome and if they want to channel their interest towards sports development, we will support the move.
“I am pleased to hear that Wilder is from Edo State because for us, we consider ourselves the number one state in sports. Some of the biggest names and big events had taken place in Edo State.”
Chief Press Secretary to the Edo State Deputy Governor, Ebomhiana Musa, added, “We will receive him with open arms; we just received Kamaru Usman. Wherever they are in the world and they are doing well in any area of their sports, Edo State is proud of them and we will be eager to honour them.
“We are so happy to hear that he has eventually traced his origin to Edo State and its good news that he traced his origin back home.”