BEING The Heavyweight Champion Of The World is a burden. While Tyson Fury is hardly bogged down by the weight of history attached to the job, he does not relish the obligations that come with the role.
“I’m like a performing monkey, aren’t I?” he reflected. “Every single press conference, every single press event, every single time I’m on the camera, music plays, silent music and Tyson Fury performs. Like one of those rattle snakes in India going round like that to the music or a dancing monkey.
“I’m really a joke aren’t I? To tell the truth. When you think about it really, it is quite funny isn’t it? Because every single time I play to being the bad guy, the villain, the outlaw, the outcast, person who don’t care, every single media event and all that. So it is what it is. People obviously like to see that. Some people don’t like it but the majority of them do.”
He mused on the nature of boxing, ageing, living and dying. “Legacies, what do they really mean? You won a few fights. You were successful at what you done. I’m a big believer in being what you are now,” Tyson said. “I’m not really too interested in leaving a legacy because legacies mean you’re obviously retired, you’re past your best or you’re a has-been. So that doesn’t really mean a lot to me. What does mean a lot to me? Not even boxing. If that meant a lot to me because if it did mean a lot to me then I wouldn’t go into camp four stone overweight would I? And I wouldn’t have ate every pie in Lancashire and drunk every pint of beer in the UK. So clearly it doesn’t mean anything to me and Wladimir says he’s excited, he’s motivated, he’s happy, he’s enjoying myself. Well, I can’t tell you I ain’t. I hate every second of it and I wish I wasn’t a boxer but I’m in this position and I’m going to do it. I hate every second of training, I hate the boxing, I hate the lot. I hate speaking to all you idiots. I hate the lot. I don’t want to be here. I’d rather be at home with the kids watching television. I’d rather be at home eating some chocolate and eating some sweets than be here talking about boxing. I hate boxing, put it that way, but I’m just too f****** good at it to stop and I’m making too much money.
“How can I stop now? Because it would be daft wouldn’t it. Easy money to be made knocking over a few bums. Something I do anyway so it is what it is. I’m not motivated for the fight. Wladimir, if he wants to come and win it, he’s got to come and knock me out, it’s simple. But obviously I’ll be in the other corner and I’ll be fighting back. So it is what it is. I hope he has a great camp, I hope he has the best camp of his life, I hope he winds the clock back 30 years and I hope he puts me into next week. Then I won’t have to do it again will I? I can retire then happy and get fat and put my feet up and watch the kids. Then me and Paris can go on loads of holidays and enjoy what we’ve done until get old and then die. Then you can bury me and say Tyson was a world champion. And what? Then what? There’s plenty of people dead who’s been world champions or successful in their life. Only their loved ones and family really remember them.”
From mocking his July 9 opponent Wladimir Klitschko, the previous world heavyweight champion, a hint of pity crept in towards the end Tyson’s words at their press conference on Wednesday. “Getting old’s horrible isn’t it? Klitschko is getting old, whether he likes it or not, 40, it’s getting time for the carpet slippers and the rocking chair, not quite yet, but after the fight it’ll be time to go into politics or whatever he’s going to do and then the chapter turns to the next story,” Fury said. “What do I do after I beat the great Klitschko? The great person who nobody thought could lose. He’s a bit like the Trojans. The Klitschkos are like the Trojans. Thought they were unbeatable until it took a bit of brains and they [the Greeks] come over and done them in. I snipered the titles away. It is what it is. Boxing is what it is. There’s plenty of boxers out there, plenty of fighters and plenty of trainers. Do they enjoy it? I don’t know. Do I enjoy it? Definitely not.”
He drew a contrast between himself and Klitschko. “But I do it to get paid and to enjoy my life and provide a future for my kids. So if that’s a bad thing then I’m a bad person and Wladimir’s great person because he’s obviously earned a lot more money than I have, so credit to him. People do these sports for different reasons. Wladimir clearly does it because he loves it. It’s not a money thing for Wlad because he already multi [millionaire] and it’s not a flash in the pan, something that he’s interested in, a hobby because he’s doing it till he’s 40 and he’s been fighting all his life. So it’s obviously something that he loves to do and when you’re like that you’re capable of anything. Going into a fight with a man who’s capable of anything, who loves training even at 40 and even when he’s rich. He loves training, he loves killing himself, living a strict lifestyle, he’s a dangerous opponent because I don’t live a strict lifestyle. I don’t even live an athlete’s lifestyle. It’s an absolute disgrace to call me an athlete. You couldn’t call me an athlete,” Tyson announced.
Then without ceremony he stood up in front of Klitschko, both their camps, the television cameras, photographers, assembled media and watching fans and peeled his shirt off, displaying an unmistakably round belly. He patted his stomach contentedly, the smile returning to his face. He turned to Klitschko and roared, “What’s the point of practising your job for 40 years if you can’t beat a fat man?”
Tyson Fury is, as ever, larger than life. He might have less joy for boxing than he once did, he may be more aware of the absurdities and hard realities of the sport than most (and few illustrate that better than Fury). But the glimmer of enduring mischief in him still burns as brightly ever.