Updated: Feb 29, 2020
Photo by Al Bello of Getty Images
Tyson Fury is the king of boxing. The Gypsy King defeated the Bronz Bomber in dominating fashion on Saturday night in Las Vegas Nevada. Tyson Fury is the world champion as he hands Deontey Wilder his first career loss. Going into the fight, Fury's professional boxing record was 29-0-1 and Wilder's record was 41-0-1 with 40 wins coming by knockout. Yes, in Wilder's undefeated career he amassed a knockout percentage of over 97.5%. This is easily one of the most impressive stat lines of any heavyweight boxer in history. In their first bout in December of 2018, the two fighters faced off in a classic match that resulted in a draw. The fight was very controversial, as many thought Fury should have been crowned the winner. A slight underdog coming into this fight, the 6'9 273 pounds Fury wanted to send a message. He claimed that he was going to attack Wilder, box inside, lean on him and keep him from extending his right hand. Fury did everything that he said he was going to and not one punch seemed to rock him. Fury now reigns as the number one undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Not even 18 months ago this was a very different story. The biggest and baddest opponent that Fury has ever faced was not the 6'7 231 pound Wilder, but his mental health.
Fury was born on August 12, 1988, in Manchester, England. Fury was named by his parents after the great Mike Tyson. Tyson Fury was born almost two months premature and weighed just 1 pound. After doctors told his father, John Fury, that he had a minimal chance to live, John said that not only would he live, but he would "grow to be nearly 7 feet tall, 20 stone (280 pounds), and the new heavyweight champion of the world." Fury lived with his three brothers and his parents in a small bus during his rocky childhood. At the age of 11, Fury dropped out of school. Fury had begun to primarily focus on his boxing career. Fury's father was his trainer until 2011, and the Fury family has a long history of bare-knuckle boxing that goes back 10 generations. It was his destiny to become a professional fighter. He made his professional debut at 20 years of age and defeated his opponent by technical knockout. Not even one year later, after climbing up the ranks, he was slated to box John McDermott for the English Heavyweight title. After a grueling match, Fury won via points decision, but this goes down as one of the most controversial boxing matches of all time. Many thought McDermott had won the fight. The fight even led to a rule change in scoring for the future. Fury settled this debate when they faced off again in June of the next year. Fury knocked down McDermott three times, and up to that point in McDermott's 32-fight career, he had never been knocked down once. That was just the beginning of a magical run by Fury. At 22 years of age Fury was 15-0 as a professional. Now Fury faced that ultimate test. He agreed to fight unanimous world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Fury had been watching Wladamir since he was 14 years old and said he always knew he would get the chance to defeat him. In months leading up to the fight, Fury heard from opponents that if you could get in Wladamir's head you had a great shot of defeating him. Fury knew that he had to win every mind game to achieve this goal. My favorite story from Fury talks about an encounter that he had with Klitschko before the fight. In an interview with Wladimir Fury claimed that "Everyone said that Klitschko was the sauna king, he couldn't be beaten in the sauna. I am at his training camp, we are in the sauna. About 10 guys are in the sauna and it came down to me and Wlad. Do you remember this Wladimir? He can say whatever he wants he can deny it whatever, but I was prepared to die in that sauna before I got out. I stayed in for like 40 minutes. He got out first. I thought, mental victory." He then added that he had "mentioned it to him, but [Klitschku] said he did not remember. So then I had him mentally because I knew he remembered." Fury went on to defeat him by unanimous decision and became the unified heavyweight world champion. He was on top of the world and it seemed like nothing could stop him now. After scheduling a rematch with Klitschko in his hometown of Manchester, Fury seemed to be on pace to become one of the most decorated heavyweights of all time with a victory, but his mental health deteriorated. He had no motivation to train, he became an addict and a shell of the champion he once was. He had hit rock bottom.
On October 12, 2016, Fury had to relinquish all of his titles due to multiple failed drug tests. Tyson Fury now had zero titles to his name. He was an alcoholic and cocaine addict. He no longer cared about boxing and much of anything else. He had even shown up to a press conference late, while under the influence of drugs wearing a full batman costume. He had ballooned to almost 400-pounds and was losing the fight to his own personal demons. He saw no positives in his life. It came to a breaking point on a late night in 2016. Fury got in his Ferrari and zoomed down the highway going over 160 mph. He was ready to die. All he wanted to do was be free. As he approached a bridge he heard a voice. The voice told him to think about his kids. Think about leaving them with no father, and everyone saying that their father was a weak man. He knew at that moment that he was going to make a comeback. He was ready for the road ahead and he was going to take it head-on. He was happy and determined to become a champion once again. He came back in July of 2018 and defeated Francesco Pianeta via a points decision. He then went on the face Deontay Wilder in their first bout and even though it resulted in a draw, he landed more punches and was more accurate than Wilder.
Fury made a resounding statement on Saturday night and now has the boxing world in the palm of his hand. The Manchester native is a hero and I hope to see his continued dominance in the ring. Most importantly his openness and prioritization of his mental health have led him to become a great advocate for the boxing community and athletes as a whole.