Meet the artist behind the Deontay Wilder statue


Tuscaloosa native Deontay Wilder returns to the ring tomorrow. The former world heavyweight champion will take on fighter Robert Helenius on Saturday night. If you can’t make it to Brooklyn for the game, the next best thing may be here in Tuscaloosa. The city unveiled a bronze statue of Wilder earlier this year at the local Sports and Tourism Commission office. Tuscaloosa artist Caleb O’Connor worked with Champion on the design. He says Wilder didn’t make too many changes…

“Uh, no…no. The only thing he wanted was when he changed his hair and let his beard grow out, and I think that’s appropriate because that’s what he looks like. But that was it. It was the only thing,” O’Connor said.

Fans of the “Bronze Bomber” lined up on Veil Day to talk with Wilder or take a photo with him or his statue. O’Connor says the artwork’s right fist could have the same fate as a famous boar statue in Florence, Italy…

“And he’s got a muzzle that’s just been rubbed through time, rubbed through time, people pass by, they rub it, they polish it,” O’Connor recalled. “And what I think his right fist is going to be. And so, I think the significance is that over time, people will touch that fist, they’ll polish it, and they’ll all be part of the art in that sense.

Deontay Wilder is known for his right punch. The champ also gave APR his first-ever interview about his connection to the historic Old Prewitt Slave Cemetery. It’s in part two of our “No Stone Unturned” series Preserving Alabama’s Slave Graveyards, at


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