If you have read my book, “Millionaire Maker Manual,” then you know that I love reading old stories about the late, great Muhammad Ali.
I wrote about how Ali learned to become a great self-promoter and eventually grew into one of the most famous people in the world. He was the “greatest of all time!”
In today’s fight game, WBC heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder might be the closest fighter to Ali’s level. Wilder, who is 37-0 with 36 knockouts, has a mean right punch and can jab opponents into the ground.
Early in his life, Wilder was not destined to be a boxer. In fact, he didn’t even put on boxing gloves until after high school.
Wilder, who is from Alabama just like former boxing great Joe Louis, has a great story that is part of what makes America great. He didn’t let circumstances dictate his future.
He grew up as a huge Alabama football fan and hoped to play football or basketball – he’s 6-foot-7 – for the Crimson Tide. His grades weren’t great and the birth of his first daughter – Naieya – guided him in a different path that took him to a local community college and luckily he found boxing via a local gym at age 19.
Wilder won the national Golden Gloves and the U.S. Championships, often beating more experienced fighters. His amateur career was impressive. In 2008, Wilder won the Olympic bronze medal – the United States’ only boxing medal – and earned the nickname “Bronze Bomber.” No male American boxer has won a medal since.
His daughter was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and his focus became on caring for her as he continued improving his boxing skills. Starting a specific skill like boxing or music at 19 makes it even tougher than it already is to reach the pinnacle of your craft.
Wilder, 31, is an outlier in this regard and has become one of the most dominant fighters of his generation just like Ali, who happens to be his hero in and out of the ring.
How did I come about meeting Wilder? I have been helping NC State basketball coach Mark Gottfried with some of his travel with recruiting because his schedule is jam-packed much like mine. A lot of times, he has a window of a few hours, which makes flying commercial problematic for him to get everything done that he has to do.
Gottfried asked Wilder to speak to the Wolfpack basketball team prior to the Red and White scrimmage that essentially signals the start of the basketball season in Raleigh, N.C. So, Gottfried called me and wanted to know if I would be willing to fly down to pick up Wilder in Alabama on Alliance Air and bring him back to Raleigh, N.C.
This was a great opportunity for me to spend time around a winner and learn more about a boxer’s mindset. I checked my schedule and it worked out that I could help out with travel. In addition to spending time with Wilder, I was able to spend more time around Gottfried and his staff too.
I saw this as a chance to learn, associate and help out my alma mater’s basketball program. It’s one of those experiences that I dreamed about being able to do when I was in my basement trying to figure out how to become successful. It’s another dream come true for me.
Beyond that, how often do you get the chance to meet a person who is in the top 1 percent of their field? In fact, he’s the best in his occupation. He’s at the top of his game and I believe that the more time you can spend around people that are willing to do the work it takes to reach that level, the better it will make you.
You can never spend enough time around winners. I’d say 37-0 would make Wilder a winner. Additionally, Wilder is charismatic and fun to be around. It’s always nice to meet a person who has celebrity and success, but also possesses character that equals the talent when it comes to how they treat people when the cameras and press are not around. I was impressed with how Wilder carried himself and he couldn’t have been more gracious to me during our time together.
What are you doing today to make yourself a champion? Have you found your purpose? Have you found the driving force that motivates you?
Wilder’s driving force is his daughter, who he promised he would always provide and care for her properly. Watching her overcome her struggles with Spina Bifida inspires Wilder to be a better fighter, father and man.
Long before Wilder became the champ, he worked three and four jobs to provide for his daughter. He mowed lawns, washed cars, etc. Whatever it took, Wilder was willing to do it.
Be very intentional about what you do with your time. Make sure you are spending it on things that are helping you improve and get closer to where you want to be in life.
Championships are not won overnight. It takes practice and purposeful effort … over and over again. That’s how you get to be the best at what you do. When you can get in a groove where it becomes habit or second nature, that’s when you start to win and win big!
Today is all you have. Make sure that you make the most of the opportunities in front of you.