Deontay Wilder and his infectious “Boooomb Zquaaaad” chant return this Saturday to the Barclays Center, where he will face Robert Helenius. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama native is the former WBC heavyweight champion of the world that was dethroned by “The Gypsy King” Tyson Fury. After their trilogy, Wilder took some time off to contemplate whether he would even return to the sport that made him rich or leave with a loss on his record. He decided to come back, but years before all this he almost gave it to a troll in real life.
Wilder, whose home gym is in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, traveled to Los Angeles eight years ago to confront Charlie Zelenoff, an internet troll, in 2014. Zelenoff wanted to throw the paws with Wilder in a boxing gym, and the massacre was captured on video.
Wilder had Zelenoff sign a legal waiver that assured he wouldn’t sue for any damages, then played no games and battered the YouTuber, knocking him to the floor.
“I really went there to kill him — to shoot him, to be honest,” Wilder said recently on “The Pivot podcast.” “Devil got in me at one point of time because we were in some alleys and my voice changed… Cuz was there with me. I brought cuz with me too. My face changed because I knew what my capabilities were.”
However, upon realizing that his cameraman could be implicated, Wilder changed his mind.
“I knew I couldn’t do it because my cameraman was one of my good friends and I had a vision of him snitching on us and I would’ve had to shoot him too,” he contiued. “I told him, I said, ‘I couldn’t do it because I would’ve had to shoot you too. Because I saw you telling on us.’ And he started, ‘Oh no, D.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I’m serious. I would’ve had to shoot you too.'”
Zelenoff had sent racist messages to Wilder and directed threats toward his daughter. Although he was annoyed with the unwanted attention he was receiving from Zelenoff, when his daughter became a target it took his anger to a different level.
“The only reason I went this far with it was that he went overboard,” Wilder said. “He threatened to murder me, and he called me the N-word. Then what took it over the top, is that he said that he was going to duct tape my daughter’s mouth and when I was reading that, I was picturing that actually happening.”
Wilder has been known to talk this way in the past. After his defeat of Luis Ortiz in 2018, Wilder was interviewed on “The Breakfast Club” radio show, where he declared his wish to catch a body in the ring.
“I want a body on my record. I want one. I want one, I really do. That’s the Bronze Bomber, he wants one,” Wilder said. “I always tell people, when I’m in the ring, like, I’m the Bronze Bomber. Everything about me changes. I don’t get nervous, I don’t get scared. I don’t get butterflies. I don’t have no feelings towards the man I’m going to fight.
“I come here for one thing, and that’s to knock you out and go back home. The power that I have, man, it’s easy to be able to do so. I thought I had one time with [Artur] Szpilka because he wasn’t breathing when he hit the canvas. Somebody is going to go. I want that on my record, because when I’m in that state on mind, like, I ain’t myself.”
Luckily for Zelenoff, Wilder was in his right mind when they took it to the “streets.”