Tuesday, March 21, 2023  |



Tyson Fury: ‘I’m the unrivalled personality of my era, I don’t know anybody who can compare’

Tyson Fury took center stage during public workouts to hype his Sept. 14 fight with Otto Wallin in Las Vegas. Photo Mikey Williams / TOP RANK

LAS VEGAS – Another Tyson Fury fight camp down, now the talking, and there’s always plenty of it, stops and he returns to his safe haven, the prize ring.

Fury, a traveler who says he is over here fighting for the outsiders and the marginalized, happily representing Mexico on their Independence Day weekend, meets Swedish underdog Otto Wallin at the T-Mobile Arena in his second consecutive Las Vegas fight. And as he builds towards more big nights and heavyweight title contests, Fury seems to have fought off his mental health demons. He seeks positivity when doubt has previously entered his thoughts.

He has no cravings, no wants, no wish list.

He’s in a good place.

There’s no bullish talk of Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, Andy Ruiz or anyone else.

There’s a change in Fury on fight week. He’s enjoying it. He’s engaging. The only thing faster than a smile is his wit.

He’s taking Vegas again and he’s doing it with a red, white and green swagger.

He’s embracing the Mexican theme and, now at 30, he is doing it on his terms.

There’s no pressure, nor are there any expectations.

“Nothing can make me upset, nothing can make me worried because quite clearly, as John Wayne would say, I don’t give a damn,” Fury smiled, as he relaxed in the Top Rank offices just four nights before the fight.

“I have a structured plan in my mind of what I want to do on a daily basis. The most important thing in my day is to get up and work out. I don’t care about anything else in that day, the most important thing, the first thing I have to do, is get up and go training, whether it’s running, lifting some weights, going to the boxing gym, I must work out. It keeps me physically and mentally focused on the job in hand. It releases an endorphin in the body, and I feel good all day until about six or seven o’clock and I need it again, so I get up and go for another run or another training session. Even when I’m not in training camp I try and do twice a day. I try and eat clean. I came into training camp at 259 pounds, I fought my last fight at 265 pounds, I’m walking around under my fight weight. Before, in my first career, in my first life, I’d come in at (350 pounds). For the Klitschko fight I came in training camp at (346 pounds) and I got down to (256 pounds) in 12 weeks. That’s quite a bit of weight to lose, and then [to] fight one of the best ever and beat him. I didn’t do too bad for an old fat fella who didn’t live the life at all. I didn’t live it. As soon as I got out of that jail – because that’s what it was to me at the time, in my mind it was prison – training camps, I would go AWOL and eat five or six takeaways a day, I’d eat everything in sight and drink 17 pints of beer to wash it all down. “Always, every day almost. Every day was Christmas. Now I have a more structured, dedicated life I don’t want to do them things. It’s all out my system, so I’m glad I had a mid-life crisis and a breakdown because now I can be a man, I can stand up to responsibility and take it on the chin. I’ve had a lifestyle change. You don’t see me doing those things anymore. If I want a bar of chocolate, I’ll have one. If I want a pint, I’ll have one, I don’t need to have 35. But I still have the all or nothing mentality because I wouldn’t be the champion I am today if I didn’t have that, so the thing is not to have that first one, because one will lead to 25.”

Fury decks Tom Schwarz. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

The rehabilitation of Tyson Fury has been a public one. He’s gone from disliked to idolized, from dancing with the devil to being called a role model. Sure, he remains an enigma, that won’t change, but life is now full of positives rather than negatives.

“I feel totally better now,” he said, relaxed and leaning back in a comfy chair, his red baseball cap switched back to front. “It’s just a boxing match to me. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m going to go in there, smile, laugh and I’m going to have fun. I’m the rarest, uniquest person on this planet for that, for the fight game. You come in my changing rooms, we’re all in there singing and dancing and having a good laugh. Ricky Hatton’s telling jokes, Tim [Allcock]’s dancing with his underpants on, I’m up and down, everyone’s just totally chilled.

“We say a little prayer, we walk to the ring, we have fun. We have fun on the way to the ring, we have fun in the ring. It’s nothing more than a boxing match to me, something I’m very good at, and something I get paid a lot of money to do, so why would I not enjoy myself? I don’t see it as some big scary thing, ‘Oh I’ve got to go in and have a fight, I might get punched in the face’. The way I look at it is if I meet the man who’s going to beat me fair play to him, bad luck to me. That’s it.”

Of course, with fights like Thomas Schwarz and Otto Wallin, respectfully, fight fans feel they are being denied the big fights, unification matches. Wilder might be on the way, but it’s not here yet. But Tyson is happy, dancing to his own tune, running his own race.

“I don’t have any ambitions in boxing,” he continued. “I have no ambitions in boxing. None. Every ambition I ever had I achieved. Everything. There isn’t one thing I wanted I haven’t achieved. There wasn’t one thing on my tick list when I started that I didn’t achieve… plus more. I’m living one day at a time. I’m living one fight at a time, people say, ‘Ah, you’ve got Wilder after Wallin’. Wallin ain’t even here yet. I might not even be alive in February, who knows? So I’m just going to enjoy fight week, I’m going to enjoy the media, the talking, the interviews. I love it. It’s what I was born to do. And to do it in the biggest place on earth Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, dream come true. I’ve done all the hard work. This is now my world of entertainment and showbusiness. The ambition thing? I’m a man that doesn’t have any ambition. I’m a man that doesn’t have any wants. The only want I want is to be happy on a daily basis. And if I can do that, that means I’m very successful. That makes it’s easy to do the job. No stress, no pressure. We’ve got everything we need. I’ve got a trainer there, perfect, I’ve got my chef, Tim Allcock, I’ve got it all. I’ve got the accuracy, the ability, the speed, the dedication, I’ve got a supporting family, supporting wife and healthy children. Can a man have any more?”

Part of what makes it all work for Tyson is keeping his circle small. The mood in camps is often jovial. They share a mission, but they also share interests and humor, too, and that’s never far away.

“I’ve got the smallest team in boxing,” Fury adds proudly. “I’ve got me, (trainer) Ben (Davison), Tim, (S&C coach) Kristian (Blacklock) and Isaac (Lowe). That’s it. Not a big team is it? Very, very small. And that’s how I like to keep it.

“It’s good fun. It’s good to be here with people who are not negative, we’re positive people. We all want to get up and have a good day. We all want to start singing and dancing and I have told all these guys and they’ll admit to you, I won’t have any negativity in the house. Don’t come to me with any negativity. If you have an argument with each other, go outside and have a fight about it, don’t bring it round me because I’m not interested. I feel as if I’m above pettiness. I’m too mature to be petty and argue over petty things. When I was 16, 17 and I was going out with my now-wife, my mother-in-law would say to me, ‘Life’s too short to argue all the time like you two do’. It’s not worth going on about. It’s a waste of energy and a waste of breath, and she used to say youth is wasted on the young and I now know what she’s talking about because all the things we used to argue about ain’t worth arguing about, at all. So all the petty bullshit that people would go on about, I can forgive and forget and let go. And I have done. Every malice or bitter feeling I’ve had towards anybody no matter what they’ve done to me in my life I forgive and forget. Let it go. Because when you hold it, it burns you inside, it makes you feel bitter and the longer you hold a hatred feeling the worse it will become. So let it go. That’s my word. Forgive and forget. If I can be forgiven by God Himself, surely I must forgive everybody who does bad to me because I do bad every day, to God, and I am forgiven, so surely I can forgive anybody. Even if they punch me in the face while I’m not looking, I’m man enough to say ‘Good shot, there’s one back, you’re forgiven. Thank you very much and good night’. And I don’t care what’s happened, I forgive everybody. I’ve no feelings or any malice towards anybody and that’s why I’m so happy in my life. One, I don’t want anything. Two, I don’t hold grudges against nobody and three I don’t have to kiss nobody’s ass to elevate myself or get a good position.

“I’d rather be broke than one of them little creeps that creep around people to elevate, a social climber.”

WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (left) vs. lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Photo by Esther Lin/ Showtime

WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder (left) vs. lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Photo by Esther Lin/ Showtime

Of course there are critics. There are haters. They line up every time Fury fights anyone outside a consensus top five. That’s the nature of the sport. We crave Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton et al every time. That’s not how the reality works, though. Ben Davison knows there is still rust to shed, timing to find, distance to make, that you can only get by banking rounds under fire, under the lights.

“I hear a lot of criticism coming from boxing promoters and fighters who have no concern or input in my career so why should they be bitter towards me for being out here, fighting on the world’s biggest stage, the world’s biggest TV station and getting the world’s biggest pay cheques,” Fury continued. “Shouldn’t they be happy for me? Because I would be happy for everybody else doing it. It’s like me saying I would begrudge Floyd Mayweather making $500m for one fight. Fair play to the guy, I hope he makes $550m from his next one! Why hate from other people’s dreams?

“Even the greatest sports people, the greatest musicians, the greatest designers, the greatest lawyers and doctors, they probably all had their critics but today we won’t be able to name three of them and that is a fact. Muhammad Ali, the greatest fighter that ever lived, had his critics but I can’t name any. If they hated Jesus Christ, and wanted to smash his face in, then what chance have I got? I’m just a mere mortal, a human being who lives a normal life. If they hated God himself, what chance have I got? This is the point where you shouldn’t be concerned about other people’s opinions. I lived my life for quite a long time being concerned about other people’s opinions, what they thought of me. Today I don’t care what a promoter has got to say about me or what somebody has got to say negative about me. I only want to spread positivity.

Forgive and forget. Stay in your lane. Keep moving forwards.

This week, again, promoter Bob Arum has compared the Gypsy King’s charisma to Muhammad Ali’s. They aren’t at all similar, but they are both unique. They are both different. They stand out, and they stand alone.

Tyson said: “Bob is a very experienced guy. He has been around a lot of great champions. He has probably forgotten about boxing than we will all ever know. I believe that everyone has their own era to deal with and contend with. Every generation we have a character and an unrivalled character, an unrivalled personality and it is fortunate enough for me that I’m the unrivalled personality of MY era. Because I don’t know anybody who can compare and I don’t believe there will ever be another after me. Unlike me, before me, there has never been one like me. I’m the first of my kind and the last.”

But Ali was defined by great fights. He had some soft ones on his travels, but The Fight, the Rumble, the Thrilla, they were proving grounds, where greatness was established, not behind the microphone of a press conference dais. Fury gets that He gets the sport.

“Them three fights – Norton, Frazier, Foreman… How does one fighter become great? It’s because of the competition at the time. I believe I’ve beaten two of the best men of my era already. Wladimir Klitschko, who was unrivalled for 10 or 11 years, I beat him and I beat Deontay Wilder in his own country as well. There’s two of the best of my era I’ve beaten. Bring ‘em on. I’m still standing, 29-0, 6-foot-9, 259 pounds of pure dedication. The thing is if I was interested in all of that to become a true great or whatever, then I would be concerned about who I fight, when I fight and how I fight. Considering I’ve no real interest in all of that stuff like legacy and how people perceive me as a person when I’m gone, it doesn’t matter to me. The word of becoming a great means you’re no longer active, you’re no longer relevant. It is unimportant what people think of me because I will be at home having a jam sandwich and a cup of tea looking out the window at Morecambe Bay. Whether people think I can fight or I couldn’t, is really unimportant. We know the truth, you lived in the days of Tyson Fury. That’s it. When we are gone, it doesn’t matter what people think.”

Bob Arum says Fury is a special individual in and out of the ring. Photo by Mikey Williams / TOP RANK

Tyson has lived in Morecambe for around 11 years. Perhaps he’s due a change, but he can’t see a move to America full-time in his future.
The only things he strives for are simplicity and happiness and he will be able to find that anywhere as long as he stays positive and around the people he wants to be with.

The dark days are over for now, though he concedes they might not be over for good.

“I always knew I could come back when I wanted to, but I didn’t know when I was going to get the urge to do it again. I thought to myself after two and a half years out of the ring, I’m not going to get that urge – then it happened.

“We take for granted our lives, the small things. We always think what we would do if we had a million quid. It’s always wanted… It’s the human nature to want rather than be contented with what we have. We are always striving for more. Sometimes more isn’t better; more assets, property, more money equals more stress and shorter life. That’s for fact.

“A hundred percent we have bad days just the same. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Like Mike Tyson said, ‘Who in history has even been happy for 10 days in a row, like every day constant happiness? Nobody. I don’t want more. I don’t want nothing. If you stripped away all the achievements, all the properties, all the money and all the cars, I’d still be El Rey Gitanos because none of that makes a man. I can sit down with kings and have a cup of tea, or sit down with a pauper and have half a lager. Achievements mean nothing to me because at the end of the day being contented and happy to me is worth more than anything in the world. I know this because I’ve been hell to back.

“I’d rather be skint, living in Las Vegas underground sewers, than go back to how I was and have a billion dollars in the bank. I never want to go back to that place, ever. [Now] there is no pressure so there is no plan. I don’t have a plan, I live life day-to-day, hour-to-hour. I wake up and think ‘what am I going to do today?’ I’m going to wake up, have a shower, brush my teeth and then I’m going to go and have peanut butter on toast I think. I will plan my day like that.

“I don’t think about next week or month because I don’t know if I’ll even be alive next month. I have no idea about these things and it used to worry me a lot – what if? What if? – but now I know we have no control on the word ‘if’ at all so I don’t worry about it. Nothing can phase me.”

Not anymore, at least. It might have used to but he’s become hardened. The windy road of life, the one with the bumps and potholes, it still being navigated carefully, perhaps more cautiously than he’d care to admit.

But his story is being chronicled. He has an autobiography coming out in November which has been two years in the making. “No holds barred,” he calls it.

“This book will even rival any sports biography ever,” he insisted. “It’s such a story isn’t it? A man who started from the bottom to the top, back down to the bottom again the back to Las Vegas here headlining in Las Vegas, King of the World. It was tough emotionally but I did it over being emotionally depressed to be totally well again right though, so there are both personalities in there.”

And what a journey it’s been. To hell and back. The brink of suicide to the brink of sport’s most prestigious prize again, it’s all there.

When Tyson Fury started this crazy ride he didn’t know where or how it might end. He might not have even dreamt about Las Vegas, but he dreamed big. For if he could give a young Tyson Fury advice starting out now, it’s just to enjoy the journey. The journey is the destination.

“I would just say, ‘Sit back, relax because we’re going to the stars.”



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