IT TAKES ONE moment and one perfectly placed haymaker from Deontay Wilder to end someone's night. A true knockout artist, he has finished off his opponent before the final bell 97.2% of the time (36--0, 35 KOs). Perfecting such a precise, devastating craft has taken the 6'7", 228-pound WBC heavyweight champion years of relentless fundamental preparation—and kayaking.
Wilder has made an art of blending recreation and training on a lake near his Tuscaloosa, Ala., home, using various watercraft and unique activities to hone his body and technique. Besides many expected regimens—including situational sparring, punch-placement training, medicine-ball work and meditation—he has incorporated kayaking into his exercise routine because it provides an intense core workout. Beyond that, the 30-year-old Wilder does "pull-ups" while he's being dragged through the water behind his power boat, a practice to which he attributes not only increased strength but also his ability to endure abuse without losing stamina.
"I love the water because you're not working only one part [of your body]," says Wilder. "When I'm on my boat, I'll come up with crazy exercises just to give me the resistance from the water. It keeps me in shape and keeps my mind feeling right."
That sort of focus is essential for Wilder, who recently hired a nutritionist and a personal chef to help improve his diet in the hope of achieving his sizable goals. "I want to be remembered as one of the true American warriors, as a guy that brought the heavyweight division back to its glory days," he says.
Wilder will take the next step in that quest when he puts his unblemished record on the line against Alexander Povetkin in Moscow on May 21. Until then, he'll be off the deep end.
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Boxing Is More Than Fitness
"My health is something that I believe is extremely crucial. Shadowboxing has helped me improve my hand speed and benefited my overall cardio conditioning. Boxing especially allows me to channel a powerful and aggressive side that leaves me feeling like I can conquer anything I set my mind to."
SI Swimsuit model
The key to a good kayaking workout is using your entire body during the stroke. Here are a few tips on the proper technique to turn your spin on the water into a core-building cruise.
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Extend one end of the paddle forward, until it's almost parallel with your feet.
As the paddle moves forward, rotate so your ribs on that side angle toward the bow.
Unwind your body while pulling with the forward hand and pushing with the aftward one.
For more athlete training profiles and tips, go to SI.com/edge
KEVIN D.LILES FORS SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (WILDER)
JAMES MACARI FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (CLAUSON)
MARTIN LAKSMAN (ILLUSTRATION)