What does boxing mean to you? Whether you’re a fan or a fighter, it’s given lots of things to different people and Tyson Fury has done it all.
Heavyweight king at 27, he joined an elite list, including Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno as one of few British bona fide champions. Here is Fury in his own words…
“I’m named after Mike Tyson because when I was born – in 1988 – he was at the height of his career. My dad was a professional boxer before me and his hero was Mike Tyson, so he called me Tyson.
“It’s correct I broke my dad’s ribs when I was 14. He insisted I hit him there to see how hard I could punch and if I had the ability. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this’ and he insisted, so I cracked him and he ended up cracking three ribs.
“I was 14 and he said, ‘okay, you can go to the gym’.
“I looked up to Ricky Hatton, Prince Naseem Hamed. I liked watching Joe Calzaghe and I used to like watching Michael Spinks, who everyone remembers getting knocked out by Tyson, but Michael Spinks had a fantastic career. He was a top boxer and I liked the way he moved and put his combinations together.
“I’ve boxed at the most iconic venues on the planet, starting at York Hall in Bethnal Green, I’ve boxed at Madison Square Garden, I’ve boxed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the O2 in Dublin, MEN Arena – all over.
“I won the ABAs as an amateur at York Hall and had a few fights there on the way up – it was definitely an iconic venue and when it’s full it’s unbelievable. I think it’s the British Mecca of boxing.
“When I became heavyweight champion, the excuse makers went to work for Wladimir Klitschko, but it was what it was. I’m not going to brag about performances, but it was a great night for me.
“I beat a great champion and it was my Everest in boxing. I beat an 11-year reigning champion in his own town, but the biggest night of my life was brought down by some people saying it was a rubbish fight or [Klitschko] was over the hill.
“I never doubt myself. From my first amateur fight I never have, but before the [Deontay Wilder] fight the people who have believed in me my whole career, all did, including my family.
“I don’t even believe my own trainer thought I could win that fight – my dad didn’t speak to me for five weeks! He was dead certain I’d get knocked spark out and he said: ‘No matter what you’re getting paid, it’s not worth to be in a wheelchair, son.’ But what can you say? You’ve got to be very proud of a performance like that from your son.
“Not everyone knows where I’ve been. Yeah, it’s written in my book, but unless you saw me have a mental breakdown, you can’t. I moved my dad into my house because I couldn’t sleep on my own as I thought someone was coming to get me. I couldn’t sleep with the light out.
“My life has been a rollercoaster and I don’t need to tell lies about what happened. I live a great life now and have more passion than I’ve ever had and I’m so, so happy.
“I’m a gym rat, so what I don’t know about boxing isn’t worth knowing about.
“After I finish fighting we’ll see what I’m going to do. I’ve already opened a boxing gym – not to be a trainer – but to give young people an opportunity in sports because, without the boxing club being there, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I may have gone down a different route.
“There may not be a champion who comes through my gym, but I’d like to give somebody the opportunity to do so.
“Routine in life is very important. To have a structured life and to give these kids a goal – to exert their energy – it gives them something to be part of because it’s better than going to a sports complex and hanging around the streets.
“You never go to a boxing gym and see a lot of cheeky children because they know what it’s like to be punched in the face.”
My Ultimate Fight
“I don’t like matching fighters from different eras because it’s pointless and will never happen, but if I had to, then I’d pick Muhammad Ali, The Greatest of all Time and lie down. I’d ‘out lip him’, but I’d take one jab and fall over just to say I’d been knocked down by Muhammad Ali.”