Tyson Fury. His name stirs many contrasting descriptions depending on whose opinion you’re asking. Fans of his will call him brilliant, skillful, funny, confident, non-conforming, tongue in cheek and someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. On the other hand, critics of his describe him as rude, disrespectful, racist, sexist, homophobic, idiotic and a bad role model. Although the one thing that anyone that knows his name will have in common is that they have an opinion on him.
For too long the Heavyweight division known as boxing’s glamour division has floundered into obscurity from the minds of the casual fan and mainstream media outside of Eastern Europe. Despite his gentlemanly ways and exemplary behaviours both in and out of the ring, Wladimir Klitschko left me bored. The pre-fight press conferences were dull and came across as a mundane, obligatory task with Klitschko offering us the same old tried and tested sound bites about his thoughts on the fight. Come fight night I would sit in hope that something exciting would happen, Klitschko so often the bigger, taller, stronger, more skilled, more powerful pugilist could surely simply walk through some of his challengers and obliterate them in minutes if not seconds if we wished and provide me with the brutality that I so enjoy. Or maybe the challenger would be in inspired mood having worked their whole lives to reach this point in their career and would put on the performance of their lives, go hell for leather and do all they can to shock the world. But no, I was left disappointed time and time again, often knocked out through boredom way before some of Wladimir’s overmatched and under ambitious opponents. The champion would avoid risks; jab, grab and lean and the challenger would trudge into the ring thinking more about which corner would be most comfortable to curl up and submit into rather than what plan of action they will take to make themselves a legend.
Then came Tyson Fury, a man so unpredictable both in and out of the ring that it created great interest and intrigue within me. Whilst moving his way up through the ranks he left me with some memorable moments out of the ring, antagonising and dismissing his opponents, amongst my favourite quips is when he likened Kevin Johnson’s rotund physique as being like “a real pudding”. That one made me chuckle.
In the ring Fury has shown himself to be a sometimes vulnerable but proud warrior with great heart when peeling himself off the canvas only to rally and stop the likes of Neven Pajkic and Steve Cunningham in exciting fashion. He has also surprised me by demonstrating pugilistic proficiency by out-boxing hard-nosed contenders such as Dereck Chisora, switch hitting whilst using expert footwork and an educated jab.
Despite Klitschko’s reserved style, most people respected the man and the fighter but Fury remained unimpressed and unperturbed, deciding to wage psychological warfare on the Sports Psychologist graduate. He expressed himself by describing Wladimir’s reign with blunted honesty. He said Klitschko’s grab and hold style was boring, that he was old and that he had “as much charisma as my underpants”. Then there was the legendary moment of turning up to a pre fight press conference dressed as Batman and brawling with Joker. Klitschko, the ultimate pragmatist could not make logic out of Fury’s antics which ultimately led him to psychologically unravel.
Against Klitschko, Fury had the mental fortitude to go into the lion’s den of Germany, make demands on matters such as the thickness of the canvas and gloves that every other challenger was too intimidated to dispute. The ability to box different styles and airing mixed verbal messages about what he would do in the fight confused Klitschko to the point that he over thought the fight and did not know which Fury would turn up, he became gun-shy and concerned about what might be coming the other way. In the end Fury beat Klitschko both psychologically, mentally and physically in convincing fashion, by showing us that he has the stamina, discipline and ability to not only believe in a game plan but also carry it out successfully. He did what many didn’t believe possible. He out boxed the master boxer.
Out of the ring, Fury has been polarising, making negative remarks on homosexuality, women and Jews and whilst I do not condone or agree with such views it is highly refreshing to hear a fighter not moulded by their publicist but instead lays himself bare for who he really is. He has also revealed a more introspective and conflicted side about his mental state when talking about his depression, his disdain for boxing politics and a yearning for a simple life with his family. He has been accessible, giving us a fascinating insight into his thoughts, feelings and psyche which in turn produces an emotional reaction within us so that we are intrigued and invested enough to talk about him and more importantly, tune into his fights whether in hope for him to win or lose. Fury’s personality isn’t appealing for being mature, polished and perfect but instead for being organic, honest and real which is what I find more relatable to rather than if he presented a squeeky clean image
Tyson Fury is unpredictable both in and out of the ring and that is what we love about the sport, not knowing what is going to happen so that when it does happen, it causes shock and awe in equal measure and leaves us with an indelible memory. With the Heavyweight division heating up, the return of Fury couldn’t be more welcome. Imagine the pre fight trash talk with Deontay Wilder and the potential fireworks in the ring. Or how about a potential mega event in the UK against Anthony Joshua that would be billed as Good vs Evil.
Love him or hate him, we need Tyson Fury back because those are the fights that would get people talking, transcend the sport and bring glamour back to the glamour division.