LET’S be honest about it, Tyson Fury can compete at the highest level of the heavyweight division. I think he’s the best heavyweight out there. None of the other heavyweights have the charisma and can relate to the public like he can.
Now, look at my past experience, look at the guys, particularly heavyweights, who can relate. There was Muhammad Ali, Ali taught me everything, I didn’t create Ali, he created me. Then I had George Foreman. After 10 years’ absence where he was a street corner preacher he came back and he was a changed person from his religious experience and we used that and his outgoing personality and his ability to make fun of himself, where people talked about his age, people talked about his weight and he turned that into plusses. He became somebody who not only the fight fan wanted to see but the sports fan wanted to see and people who knew nothing about sports, who’d hardly ever followed sports, wanted to see.
At one particular point in time HBO, the premium network, had 30 million homes and he did a fight, an ordinary fight on HBO and they did 20 million homes that night. A small percentage of HBO’s audience, maybe 10 per cent were boxing fans but this was two thirds of their audience. Like the same number of people who watch Game of Thrones now were watching George Foreman. Once that happened we had something special. You had an athlete who transcended his sport, who people cared about and wanted to watch.
This guy, Tyson Fury has the charisma and the gift of gab and the wow factor about him that’s going to attract the American public. Once he does, the sky’s the limit. Because even though there are probably more per capita dedicated boxing fans in the UK, in the United States we have a tremendously bigger population.
So he is going to be the next big sensation in the United States, not only as a fighter but as a personality.
He reminds me of Ali in the extent that he can project and make people take notice. But Ali, his message became a lot more social orientated because of what he was. It was good with Ali, but it was also baggage because some people really resented it. Fury doesn’t have that impediment. He’s more like Foreman in the sense of, ‘hey, I’m me, I’m unique, I can entertain you.’
People haven’t taken to a fighter that way since Foreman. Because the fighters now, like most athletes, are selfish, they’re not outgoing and they don’t project themselves and all they want to talk about is ‘I’m better pound for pound than you.’ Like anybody gives a s**t.
So really you don’t have the kind of personalities like him. Some of the fighters, they ruin it because they say things that don’t appeal to the public. Watch Fury, he speaks beautifully. This guy really is something special so when the opportunity arose to do a deal with Frank Warren and MTK and get him exposed in the United States we jumped at it. Because I know how to do it. It wasn’t like I hadn’t done it before. But you can’t do it if you have a guy who’s not promotable or who’s too serious or in his own head. It’s very, very hard to make that connection. This guy you can’t help but make the connection. All you’ve got to do is expose him and he’ll take over and do it himself. You don’t have to bulls**t for him.
We want the public at large to know him, care for him, to listen to his story and we think that when that happens he will be the most famous athlete in the world and that’s our goal.
Tyson Fury takes on Tom Schwarz, live on BT Sport Box Office, on Saturday June 15.