• Meeting Deontay Wilder was the greatest thing that happened to Jay Deas, his trainer.
  • Deas told Business Insider that he talks to Wilder regularly about how far they have come together, from being “completely broke” when they first met in 2005, to headlining one of the boxing events of the year 15 years later.
  • Wilder’s journey has been remarkable. From growing up in childhood poverty, to buying a custom Rolls Royce SUV — his 11th car — which he keeps at a house he owns in Los Angeles.
  • “It’s been an amazing ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Deas told us. Neither, we’re assuming, would Wilder.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

LAS VEGAS — Deontay Wilder’s trainer Jay Deas says meeting the heavyweight was “the greatest thing that ever happened” to him.

Speaking to Business Insider inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where his famous heavyweight fighter defends his WBC championship belt against Tyson Fury on Saturday, February 22, Deas said Wilder changed his life forever.

It is a mutual feeling.

After all, in 2017, 12 years after they met for the first time, Wilder said on the Premier Boxing Champions website that there were a handful of people who guided his life and shaped him as a person. He put his relationship with Deas up there with the inspiration he draws from Muhammad Ali, with his family members like his Grandma and his children, and also his relationship with God.

Wilder grew up poor, and the way Deas tells it, he did too. For Wilder, he was dressed in “hand-me downs,” “Wal-Mart sale items,” and shoes that barely fit, according to The Athletic.

Later in life, when he was a freshman at community college in Tuscaloosa, Wilder left the education system to work multiple jobs to support his daughter, Naieya, who had been born with spina bifida, which is a birth defect of the spinal cord. Doctors told him she may never be able to walk.

Wilder worked at Red Lobster, IHOP, and even delivered beer kegs in the middle of the night. Then, one day, he walked into a boxing gym, met Jay Deas, and their lives would never be the same again.

It was not long before Wilder was knocking sparring partners down in the gym. He could easily have made $500 a month as a journeyman, someone who would be offered fights late notice to save a local boxing show, and ultimately be paid to lose.

Deontay Wilder and Jay Deas

Wilder and Deas laugh during a media training session.

Photo by Michael Owens / Getty Images

But it was Deas who encouraged Wilder to learn his trade on the amateur scene, even if for a short while. He saw Wilder’s potential. After only three years of learning boxing, Wilder had won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games. Seven years after that, he was a world champion professional boxer.

Last year, ESPN reports that Wilder bought his 11th car — a custom Rolls-Royce SUV with gold features. It is called his California car because he keeps it at the house he owns in Los Angeles.

The daughter he was told might never walk is now on the cheerleading squad.

“This man has been the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” Deas told Business Insider this week.

“Our partnership has been phenomenal and successful and we talk all the time about that very thing, starting out completely broke in 2005, to where we are now.

“It’s been an amazing ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Neither, we’re assuming, would Wilder.

Read more:

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