Deontay Wilder at 2008 Olympics: What Really Happened?

Published 01/25/2021, 7:27 AM EST
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 23: WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder stands in the ring before the start of his title fight against Luis Ortiz at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 23, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Wilder retained his title with a seventh-round knockout. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)


Former WBC champion Deontay Wilder began boxing at the age of 20, while most of his current contemporaries had begun their training as children. However Wilder still found his way to the top and within a brief span, he became one of the most treacherous knockout artists.

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Excluding all the professional achievements, Wilder won the bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics, 2008, before turning pro. He had a monumental run of 7 undefeated fights before losing the semi-final against Italy’s Clemente Russo. Surprisingly, Russo never turned a professional. However, he remained the one to eliminate Deontay Wilder and Oleksandr Usyk from the 2008 Olympics.

Following the Olympic loss, Wilder departed with the bronze medal and the nickname of ‘The Bronze Bomber. But, he was heartbroken at that point.

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Deontay Wilder vs Clemente Russo- The fight that changed the American boxer

Wilder seemed inevitable in the Olympics in 2008, and no one seemed to be able to crack his game plan. However, Russo took a different path and outpointed a young Deontay Wilder throughout. Although Wilder had his minor moments in the ring, it wasn’t enough to bag the win.

From the very beginning, Russo landed bigger jabs and controlled the range. Meanwhile, the future WBC champion caught him with some good hooks. But, the Italian pugilist bounced back and returned fire with more intensity.

As the fight went deeper, Russo looked comfortable and landed prominent shots to advance himself on the scorecard. While Wilder stood toe-to-toe with his opponent till the final bell, he had taken a lot of damage. Despite all the efforts, ‘The Bronze Bomber’ lost the fight and exited the Olympics at the semi-final stage.

Many predicted ‘The Bronze Bomber’ to win a gold medal, but it didn’t happen, and Wilder learned the harsh truth about combat sports.

Speaking about the defeat, Wilder connected with Sky Sports and said, “My heart was broken in the Olympics. You can train for four years but when you get to the big dance, your fate doesn’t lie in your hands.”

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The lessons helped him on the professional circuit as he surpassed almost every elite fighter and reigned as the WBC champion for half a decade before going down to Tyson Fury.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 22: Referee Kenny Bayless sends Deontay Wilder to his corner during the Heavyweight bout for Wilder’s WBC and Fury’s lineal heavyweight title against Tyson Fury on February 22, 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Wilder knocked out almost every opponent he has faced with 41 KOs in 44 fights. That said, he has knocked down all of his opponents, including Tyson Fury.

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Do you think Deontay Wilder will become a heavyweight world champion again? Was his defeat to ‘The Gypsy King’ similar to his Olympic loss, and can it awaken the beast within?

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Raj Sarkar

2090 articles

A senior boxing writer at EssentiallySports, Raj Sarkar is a mass media graduate who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In addition to his current role, he has worked with the MMA team at EssentiallySports and has interviewed prominent fighters such as Ritu Phogat and 'The Red King' Rory MacDonald. He combined his bachelor's degree with his adoration for combat sports and has a combined 2000 plus bylines in MMA and boxing over the last two years.

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