One of my favorite fighters, ‘Bronco’ Billy Wright, was diagnosed with a serious brain illness in 2018.
Almost as tragic is the limited media attention he received when the story broke as I’m just learning about it.
One of the coolest fighters to have stepped in the ring, the 57-year-old Wright fought until age 50 and produced an excellent record of 47-4, 38 KOs. Even at the time of his final bout, Wright was ranked No. 63 in the world (of roughly 1,200 active heavyweights) by BoxRec and No. 23 in the U.S. by the same website.
Wright, at 50, was also rated No. 17 by the WBC.
Incidentally, in his final bout, Wright dispatched formidable 29-year-old Gilberto Domingos (then 22-3, 20 KOs) in the opening stanza with a nasty body shot. The win was the 6’4″, 325 lb Wright’s 14th straight knockout and 29th career first-round stoppage.
Yes, his 29th first-round knockout.
How accomplished is Wright?
Three of his four losses were to former IBF Heavyweight Champion Tony Tucker, (then 56-7) who KO’d Buster Douglas and went 15 rounds with Mike Tyson, former champ Frans Botha (then 24-0), and former lineal heavyweight champion Michael Moorer (then 29-0).
Wright turned pro in 1986 but took hiatuses from boxing in the following years: 1988-89, 1996, 2000-06, and 2008-10.
Prior to his final fight on March 13, 2015, Wright told sports publicist Mario Serrano via WorldBoxingNews.net
“Right now I’m at #17 [in the WBC], but I plan to move up with each fight this year.”
“At this age, I feel stronger than I was when I was younger. It’s that old man strength I guess you can call it. I’m smarter, wiser, and more disciplined at this stage in my career.”
“I have a goal to become the heavyweight champion of the world and motivation is greater than ever.”
What Bronco Billy Wright accomplished, especially after 40 years of age, should serve as an inspiration to us all.
About the illness
We don’t know what has transpired since his announcement in 2018 but we do know he was diagnosed with a serious brain ailment.
“We have a great opportunity to raise awareness for this very scary disease,” Wright stated via social media. Brain disease is not a nice way to go. Not that there is a nice way. But to have your mind disintegrate to nothing is intimidating. Even for big, strong guys like me.”
“Most think of brain disease as an elderly condition and just the process of life. Well, I am here to say this is not true. Brain disease can affect anyone young or older. I am living proof of this. And even if it was reserved for the elderly what a cruddy way to go.”
“I now Fighting brain disease that is progressing very rapidly.”
“And I have a broken heart for anyone who has had to experience any degenerative brain disease. There is no good endings.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help Billy.
“Unfortunately, my insurance does not cover this. And I really do not want to, literally, lose my mind. So we are asking for help.”
“Big step for me. I have been a fix-it-myself kind of guy my whole life. This is a disease that can affect anyone it seems. It may be rare now but in a short time who knows.”
“Finding a treatment or cure is not just important for me but for thousands of others. So please donate and support our cause in finding a treatment and cure for this mind-erasing disease.”
Wright continues to fight his disease with courage and has even written a book that was published in 2021. Per CNB News, “his first publication, the fantasy series Earthly Worlds, became an instant Amazon bestseller, and his upcoming science-fiction novel, Mind-Benders, co-written by EGA-represented International #1 bestselling author Steve Eggleston, is hotly anticipated.”