Tyson Fury was born 3 months prematurely into an Irish gypsy family living in Manchester, England. From the start the odds were stacked against him.
By the age of 30 he had amassed a fortune of around £20m, won – and was later stripped – of heavyweight boxing’s most prestigious belts.
He was an ideal target for the British tabloids and seemed almost happy to provide them with the ammunition they would use to tear him down. The tide appeared to turn when he opened up about his mental health issues.
The Strength To Open Up
I was a naysayer, a skeptic and a critic of The Gypsy King. It’s easy to hold those we see regularly on television and on our screens to a higher standard of social decorum.
Throughout our common pop culture we’ve been quick to label these celebrities. Wildchild, diva, rock star behavior.
For years and years we’ve thrown these people in to their designated boxes dependent on how they acted when on record, which they are so often. Tyson was loutish, crude and often made homophobic and anti-Semitic slurs.
A devout Catholic, with an Irish Gypsy father; it would be easy to call him a product of the environment he grew up in.
New Life To An Ancient Sport
World heavyweight boxing was in a lull. Lets call it the ‘Klitschko years’. Then in 2015, Fury shocks the boxing world and claims the throne. A 4/1 outsider, he walked in to the Ukrainians (almost) back yard and claimed the belts as his own after a points decision.
Not counting two small ‘tune-up’ fights earlier this year, which many do not, this was Tyson’s last fight. Klitschko exercised his rematch clause but Fury pulled out three separate times, eventually citing depression.
For two years the press hounded him. He ballooned in size and sought escape from his depression via cocaine and alcohol. A year after winning the belts he had gained around 10st (140lbs/63kg). A staggering amount of weight which only only made his already hulking 6’9” frame seem threatening and ominous.
Not A Role Model, But An Inspiration To Many
Tyson Fury will never be a poster boy for the sport; the same way his namesake Mike Tyson will forever be reviled by some as a villain, no matter how many corners he has turned.
What he has done is open the floor to dialogue. He speaks freely about his demons and how, with the support of his family and opening up to those closest to him, he has managed to overcome the dark cloud that hangs over him.
While depression cannot be cured, it can be managed. Tyson Fury has seemingly managed his depression by being emotionally honest with those who surround him and by working towards hard towards his biggest passion, in the ring.
On the 1st December Tyson Fury will step back in to the ring, a literal third of his former self, and take on the American champion Deontay Wilder. Whether he win, lose or draw, to be able to walk out onto a world stage after such a turbulent few years is a remarkable feat and I hope serves a reminder, during this Mental Health Awareness Month, that there is always help available for those who seek it.