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Rome Reports

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World heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder greets Pope Francis

Deontay Wilder is the current heavyweight World Boxing Council champion. He recently got the chance to meet Pope Francis. His girlfriend, model Telli Swift, accompanied him.

The pair attended the inauguration of Scholas Occurrentes' headquarters in Rome. It is a global education project promoted by the pope.

World Boxing Council Champion
“I mean, it means a lot to me. It was an honor to meet, it was an honor to meet Papa Francisco. Amazing man, you know. My fiancee, she grew up Catholic. So it just, it's just a pleasure just to be here just to witness it for my own eyes and what he stands for, and what he represents means a lot you know. FLASH. Well, we gave him signed boxing gloves from me.”

“A sweater from my association. I work with children, family and women as well too. It's called the Boxing Wags Association. We also gave him a hat that was white. That was symbolic of purity for the pope, so it's honor. It's an honor to be here.”

Scholas Occurrentes aims to make sports stars more aware of the social role they play, especially for young people who admire them. That's why they have included champions like Deontay Wilder in their projects.

The boxer said what helped him reach the top was not a desire for fame, but a need to pay for his daughter's medical treatment. She was born with Spina Bifida.

World Boxing Council Champion
“I worked my way through the rankings in boxing. I had to start at the very bottom of very, very low in boxing, I had to work my way all the way up into a champion where I am now. And it still is, you know, I got a bullseye on my back because everyone wants to be champion. But my daughter motivated me to get to this point as I motivated her to get through, get to get through her her disorder that she has with dealing with Spina Bifida. So it was joined together, that we both lift each other up.”

Scholas Occurrentes seeks to be a tool to promote interreligious dialogue. Through its activities it aims to help young people grow and share their projects with people of different cultures, ethnicity and religious beliefs.