Interviews

Deontay Wilder’s Head Trainer Tells Us What It's Like to Be Hit by the Heavyweight Champ

He compares the champ’s punching power to a combination of two boxing greats.

Jay Deas and Deontay Wilder
Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Getty

Heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder has etched a name for himself in the boxing community over the past decade through his downright scary punching power. In his 40 professional bouts, only Bermane Stiverne went the distance with the champ back in 2017. In the rematch, however, Wilder made short work of him, flooring Stiverne with a first-round KO. 

Hailing from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Wilder initially took up boxing to support his daughter, Naieya, who has spina bifida, an extremely expensive birth defect that affects the spine. Despite the condition, Wilder’s financial success has led to a better life for Naieya. When speaking to BT Sport, he revealed, “She came very far from what doctors said she would maybe never be able to do. Like walk or have a natural childhood ability of learning.” He also added, “She’s just become a thirteen-year-old. I’m just very proud of her.” 

He went to his local gym in 2005 in hopes of finding a trainer who could quickly turn his natural athleticism into a career that would help him support his daughter. The gym he entered was Sky Boxing Gym, and the trainer he linked with was Jay Deas, the gym's owner. Ever since that meeting over a decade ago, this pair has demolished the heavyweight division. He currently holds the WBC title belt, while Anthony Joshua holds the WBO, IBF, and WBA belts.  

On December 1, Wilder will face the undefeated Tyson Fury, the fifth-ranked heavyweight in the world. Deas believes Wilder’s power will prevail again, which is easy for him to say because he’s been absorbing Wilder’s blows for years. 

M&F: How exactly does it feel to be punched by a heavyweight champ, specifically Wilder?

Deas: It's not pleasant—he just has tremendous power. They used to say getting hit by George Foreman was like getting hit by a Mack Truck at 35 miles an hour. Like you could feel every bit of the pain and everything. And that getting hit by Mike Tyson was like getting hit by a bullet. You don't really feel it, your body just doesn't work anymore. Deontay's a little bit of a combination of the two. Probably more on the speed side, more on the Mike Tyson side in that he, you know, he generates a lot of power through his speed. It's like a shock to the system type of a thing. 

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In the past, Wilder has sent you, and other people in the camp, to the hospital due to various training incidents. Was there an adjustment period in training with Wilder compared to others? 

I had an elbow injury from playing college baseball, and I had to adjust the way that I took the punches. I had to raise my elbows up a little bit so as to take the power more on the shoulders. I had to kinda just change where the impact was affecting me. 

Since you’ve been training him, have you felt a difference in power?

I think he’s gotten more accurate and more precise and really homing in on the punches that he's throwing. I think that the power has increased. It's not like he's just trying to hit the side of the barn; he's trying to hit the fly on the door on the side of the barn. 

How does Wilder’s workout regimen outside of the ring contribute to his success? 

So we work hand-in-hand with the strength team. But they do a lot of pushing motions, twisting motions, footwork, and agility. There’s not a lot of pulling motions because that can slow you down. 

What do you think separates Wilder from other punchers?

So just being a puncher alone is not gonna get you there. There has to be other tools in the toolbox. And his will to win is really second to none. He's willing to dig deeper than anybody else. And no matter how deep they go, he can go even deeper. 

Do you have a personal favorite Wilder KO? 

The Ortiz fight. Everybody knew Ortiz was one of the top three or four fighters in the world. And then for Deontay to beat him like he did and overcome adversity, that was probably the sweetest one.

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