Boxing megastar Deontay Wilder sat with a gun on his lap and considered suicide in the year after his daughter was born.
The WBC heavyweight world champion made the devastating revelation ahead of his rematch with Tyson Fury, on February 23 (AEDT) in Las Vegas.
Wilder, 34, was just 19 when his eldest child, Naieya, was born with spina bifida. He was then working as a waiter at IHOP, the US pancake restaurant chain.
“The lowest moment for me in my life was years and years and years ago, I think when my daughter was first born back in 2005,” Wilder told BT Sport.
“But in 2006 it became very rocky for me, to the point where I lost my family, to the point where I had a gun in my lap and I was ready to commit suicide myself.
“Those thoughts come to your head – we’re all human. Those thoughts come to anyone’s head that is going through some type of depression or going through different things in your lives.
“You think the only way to end all of this is to end your life. You are not thinking about anyone else, you’re just thinking about yourself and what’s going on.
“It was very hard being 19, having my first child born with a disorder.
“We all prayed that are kids are born healthy and when you get a challenge in life, especially when you’re a young adult and trying to go through life and your own path and find your own journey.
“And then you have a bigger task in front of you and your child needs more love than the normal child, and when you’re barely making ends meet when money goes through your hands, it goes right through because of bills and other things.
“You’re going from pay cheque to pay cheque. I’ve done that, I’ve been there, I know what it feels like.”
Wilder did not take up boxing until age 20, thinking that it could become a way to make money to support his daughter. That was in 2005 and just three years later, he was an Olympic bronze medallist.
His prodigious talent has been confirmed throughout his professional career. The ‘Bronze Bomber’ became heavyweight world champion after 33 pro fights and his record stands at 42-0-1 (41 knockouts).
His current run of 10 consecutive title defences matches the best streak of Muhammad Ali. Emulating the Greatest Of All Time seemed unthinkable in his past life.
Wilder, who has knocked out Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz since the Fury draw, said that his early troubles had given him a champion’s spirit.
“During that time I’d always take a cold shower and once I get out of there, go to sleep and wake up I’m a new man to approach life in a different mindset and a different way and never give up,” he said.
“And here I am to educate and to motivate and show people that we all go through things, we’re human.”
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