Feature

BIG READ Tyson Fury on Wladimir Klitschko, life, the universe and everything

Tyson Fury tells Danny Flexen about his fascinating life ahead of his shot at Wladimir Klitschko

Tyson Fury and John Fury

JOHN, like Peter more casually attired, leans forward from his vantage point, bristling with evident frustration at their confinement. Where his son is philosophical, moody even, John is animated and combative, keen to stoke a fire in all of them. He insists his son possesses the same instinct for violence that courses through the veins of their ancestors.

“This unbelievable burning desire to never lose,” he emphasises with a shrewd glint in his eye, perhaps measuring my worth as rapidly as he later affirms he can value antiques. If Peter radiates hushed menace, his older brother projects a coarse bravado. “Klitschko’s all man-made. With us, this has been going on for generations. It’s like them pitbull terriers in America, they’re bred to fight. If they’re fighting a dog what’s crossed, the cross dog will lose. People say, ‘They’re doing this wrong and that wrong, living in caravans’, but it doesn’t alter your ability to fight. We’re fighting people and Klitschko isn’t. Every time he fights, he’s nervous, tentative, terrified of getting hit. Getting hit don’t bother us. I’ve done jail, long stretches for fighting, so us and Klitscho we’re chalk and cheese, but we’ve got the edge on the fighting part because when it comes down to sheer grit, strength and determination never to wonder, you can’t match that.

“It’s like me, I could get out there now and have a fight for an hour, I love it,” he goes on in clipped, gravelly tones. “I wouldn’t care what happened to me; if I could get away with it. The law is cages for lions and we are lion-hearted people. When I was a young lad there’d be five or six different people and I’d be looking, ‘Which one’s gonna be cheeky? Which one’s lookin at me funny?’ You get this thing in you that you wanna have a ruck.”

A journeyman heavyweight in the 1980s and ‘90s, loath to train and more adept at trading blows on the streets, John Fury is well-placed to pinpoint the different qualities needed for fighting with and without rules. John believes Tyson has inherited his pure fighting heart and desire but allied it to the work ethic he never had, forming a potent package that will overwhelm Klitschko next month.

“I never trained,” he admits, though plainly without regret. “I couldn’t be bothered with the rigmarole when I was getting three hundred quid and had a family of kids. I used to drive three times a week to a gym and that would be it. If you’re messing with athletes you’re not gonna beat ‘em unless you’re training like athletes. You can have a belly full of beer and go out there and fight all day, because you’re not messing with skilled people. This fella here has the best of both worlds. He’s got that toughness – Klitschko could never be as tough as him.”

That assertion is open to debate, but the Ukrainian is undeniably well-schooled, experienced and powerful. It will take the performance of Tyson’s life to dethrone the champion and while I fail to sense any lack of belief on his part, Fury is currently downbeat and severely lacking in the passion that inflames his father. We have been here before – Fury has several sides to his personality and you are never quite sure which mood you will find him in. One day Tyson could be all over social media, proclaiming himself the greatest man who ever lived, the next, like today, the 27-year-old swears nothing in this world could enliven him. Despite struggling with depression in the past, Fury denies a relapse.

“Depression’s for weak-minded divs,” he states. “You get up, sometimes you feel good, sometimes you feel s***, it’s no good worrying about it. I don’t care about anything. If they said to me, ‘You’ve got cancer and you’ve got two weeks to live,’ so what?”

This level of negativity would be shocking in anyone else preparing for such a momentous event, but Fury’s erratic nature has become almost predictable. His behaviour also constitutes a distraction, likely intentional, from tedious training camp life. Trying to better understand him, I ask Tyson why, if his existence really is pointless, he bothers getting out of bed in the morning to train, or goes running in all weathers.

“I do it for other people,” the Wilmslow giant muses, mildly surprised at this epiphany. “Me dad and me uncle Peter, they want boxing more than I do. I do it to make them happy, I do it to make me brothers happy, because they live for my boxing. I was talking to me brother recently and I asked him the five things he wanted in life. He said, ‘Health, strength, happiness, for everyone to be okay and for you to keep winning in boxing.’ It obviously means a lot to people. To me, if I get knocked out I get knocked out and if I don’t, I don’t. As long as I know I tried my best it’s all I can do. I know living life for other people is s***e but I do it, one, because I get paid for it, and, two, because I like to make people happy.”

I suggest that this is just a ‘down day’, that the storm will pass – although the real downpour, loud and conspicuous, undermines my argument somewhat.

“I’m like this 24/7, this is my outlook, I wake up just to go to sleep,” he tells me.

“He’s a bit of a crackerjack,” John Fury interjects, hoping, like me, to divert his son from melancholy.

“Nothing really turns me on or excites me,” Tyson adds.

“Your family?” I prod.

“Nothing. I’m living life day to day.”

“What about making other people happy, as you described?”

“Well, I’ve made them very happy,” he retorts, with a sincere and welcome chuckle. He is referring to wife Paris, five-year-old daughter Venezuela, son Prince (who turns four on October 1) and, more specifically, the lifestyle he has afforded them with boxing success.

“His wife never gets depressed,” John points out with a grin and now we all laugh. But the respite is only temporary.

“I’m the most negative person in the world,” Tyson summarises. “I’m not interested in being an ambassador for anything or holding titles for a long time. There’s nothing that makes me happy, I’ve tried everything.”

Next – page 3 of 3: Fury keeps the faith

Boxing news – Newsletter

Current Issue