Undefeated WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder was named the Boxers’ Representative and Ambassador for Peace through Sport by Pope Francis during a private ceremony at Scholas Occurentes headquarters in Vatican City on Friday.
Wilder, who was accompanied by WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, joins Muhammad Ali and Riddick Bowe as the only American heavyweights to ever have an audience with the Pope.
“This was an incredible honor and I’m very happy to have met with Pope Francis,’’ Wilder said. “I want to thank him for meeting with me. I also want to thank the WBC for arranging the visit and thank the Italian Boxing Federation for hosting me as I visited with the people of Italy. It has been one of the best experiences of my life. It proves that I plan on being a true heavyweight champion of the world.’’
Scholas Occurrentes is a non-religious Pontificia foundation created by Pope Francis with the support of Jose Maria del Corral and Enrique Palmeyro. Scholas awarded the World Boxing Council the administration of BoxVal (Boxing with values).
Wilder also stopped by at a children’s hospital during his tour of Rome, where he offered encouraging words, played and read with the patients. He plans to visit the Rome Colosseum and the National Roman Museum.
Known as “The Bronze Bomber,” Wilder is 42-0-1, with 41 KOs, and is currently boxing’s longest reigning world heavyweight champion. Last November, he stopped Luis Ortiz in the seventh round to tie Muhammad Ali on the heavyweight list for most consecutive world title defenses (10).