Boxing

Tyson Fury opens up on beating his demons, wanting 11 kids, AJ and God

‘I’m on my longest upbeat run ever. I’m in my happy place’: A sunny Tyson Fury opens up on beating his demons, wanting 11 kids, Anthony Joshua, God and teaching the next generation to box!

  • Tyson Fury opened up to Sportsmail in an exclusive chat from his Miami home
  • The Gypsy King says his depression demons are behind him after his struggles 
  • The 32-year-old reveals 2020 was one of the best years of his career so far
  • Fury is preparing for the task of a trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder this summer 

For the reborn Tyson Fury all is light, all is bright, all is right with the world.

The ever-threatening clouds of acute depression have evaporated into the sun-kissed dawns breaking every morning over his American odyssey.

As he basks by the pool here at his rented home in Miami, with his wife and children, he seals the purchase of ‘something of a mansion’ in Las Vegas which will be the family home ‘for half a year, every year’.

Tyson Fury has revealed his depression has been knocked down ahead of a crucial 2021

The Gypsy King opened up to Sportsmail’s Jeff Powell (right) from his place in sunny Miami

The closing of that deal prompts a startling announcement as to how many more children they are planning. His beloved Paris, already almost seven months pregnant with their sixth child, smiles broadly as Fury goes into detail.

‘Think around a football team,’ he tells Sportsmail. ‘We’re going to need this very big house.’

That is followed by this revelation: ‘I’ve finally worked out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life after I’ve destroyed Deontay Wilder a second time out here next month. Demolished Anthony Joshua at least once assuming he turns up. In December, or whenever. Then two or three more big fights.’

Fury wants to have a few more ‘big fights’ after beating Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua

Since resolving his long-term future it has looked like the final hurdle on his marathon road to recovery from mental illness has been cleared.

‘Thank God.’ He means that literally, adding: ‘Without my faith I couldn’t possibly be in the very happy place I am today.’

So happy that even as the cerebral health of millions in Britain has been damaged by the pandemic Fury says: ‘Curiously for someone who struggled with the demons inside my own head for years, lockdown has not adversely affected me. The opposite. It has helped me put my priorities in life into order of importance. Brought calm.’

That tranquillity resides now behind the brash, flamboyant showmanship with which he engages Wilder as well as Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn in acidic, heated, insulting exchanges on social media.

Fury claims this is the best he has felt in years and reveals lockdown did not affect him at all

So even as he threatens to inflict on Wilder ‘serious damage, even more severe than last time,’ the Gypsy King expresses concern for the well-being of America’s Bronze Bomber. Albeit tempered.

Of Wilder’s excuse about the energy-sapping weight of his absurd face mask when they fought last year, followed by outlandish accusations that Fury had cheated, he says: ‘Clearly he’s suffered his first mental breakdown since I gave him his first defeat. Not surprising really. I injured him heavily. As well as the torn biceps he kept going on about he ended up with a ruptured shoulder, while I also gave him a cracked skull and two burst ear-drums.

‘I smashed him to pieces. He felt like he’d been run over by an 18-wheeler. Make that a six-foot-niner.’ A chuckle, before he goes on: ‘Then he lost the plot completely with all those mad allegations.

Fury addressed the allegations made by Wilder (left) over his gloves in their last fight

‘I haven’t spoken to him since that night but he’s had a lot of mental issues. I would be the best person to help him. I will if he wants. Maybe not before July 24.

‘I hope he brings a lot more to the ring than last time. That was a one-sided beat-down but I love real challenges. I didn’t think he would take the trilogy fight but he’s proved me wrong. Either he’s a glutton for punishment or he’s just coming for the money. Because he knows he can’t win. At least it will be over quicker for him. He won’t last seven rounds this time.’

Thankfully, the new Fury exudes the impression that his hard-won psychological stability is permanent. That is due in part to the climate he has enjoyed through three months in Vegas and Dallas, supporting Billy Joe Saunders before and after his painful loss to Canelo Alvarez, then in Miami with the family, now back in camp in Sin City. Training all the time.

‘The weather helps,’ he says. ‘You wake up in the sunshine and automatically you’re positive every day. Wake up in the rain and the cold and you’ll be negative. I hate to think I’d ever have to go back to being up and down day to day.

The Gypsy King is based in Miami where he is preparing for Wilder at his Sin City training base

‘The story of my struggle is well told but I’m on my longest smooth, upbeat run ever and it will stay that way as long as I continue to manage my mental health and I’m physically able to carry on training every day for the rest of my life.

‘I love to work out. Three or four times a day. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Without training I am nothing.’

Which brings us back to the future. The focus will switch to outside the ring but not away from the sport which has brought him fame and controversy, wealth and glory.

‘I know now that I want to stay in boxing,’ says Fury. ‘Since I opened my gym in Morecambe I’ve discovered that I get an amazing feeling from teaching. Working with young boxers or fighters who are stuck at a lower level and to see them learn from you is tremendous. To watch people soak up what you’re telling them and do it, or make something good out of a promising lad is unbelievably satisfying.’

Beyond that he is forming a working partnership with SugarHill Steward — the new trainer brought in to add to Fury’s elusive skills the ferocious aggression which shell-shocked Wilder in their second fight — to extend their impact on world heavyweight boxing.

Fury (left) has formed a working partnership with new trainer SugarHill Steward (right)

‘When I finish as champion after maybe four or five more fights Sugar and I are going into business together,’ Fury says. ‘We will train a few fighters. We’ve set the wheels in motion already by contacting a few young hopefuls around the world.

‘Hopefully we will find a new world heavyweight champion. That would be incredible — maybe even more of an achievement than me winning all the belts. For me, more difficult. Inside the ring I know exactly what I’ve got to do to win. But when it’s someone else you don’t have that control. It will be a huge challenge.

‘I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been around boxing all my life and I know the game inside out. But with this I can still be in big-time boxing, without getting my face smashed. How bad is that?’

Not bad at all, since it will keep him in the gym on a daily basis. Unlike managing or promoting and for Fury infinitely preferable.

The Morecambe-born boxer wants to take up coaching once he hangs up his own gloves

‘I hate the business side of boxing,’ he says. ‘It ruins the sport when it’s only about money. As a fighter if you don’t love the hard graft and training you’re not going to make it. But if you do all the tough stuff right then the other side has to be correct. If the management or promotion doesn’t run smoothly, you’re flogging a dead horse.

‘You have to be rewarded for all the effort. But when there’s money involved you can find yourself surrounded by parasites. I’ve seen so many rats and sharks who are baying for money, baying for your blood, baying for all they can get.

‘Then when it’s all over they take flight. On to the next person they can leech, suck all the blood from, sap all the energy, abuse you and leave you. Never to be seen again. Never a phone call.’

So how does that relate to his present trio of world-renowned promoters? ‘Frank Warren and I have some history,’ he muses. ‘But when he came back he got me a world title shot after two fights, selling out arenas in Manchester and Belfast. Next came Wilder in the Staples Center in Los Angeles and then the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

Fury (right) admits he does not like the business side of boxing as a potential career option

‘He brought BT Sport on board, who I launched into the boxing big time. Frank’s done a good job. He wanted me to fight Joshua as much as I did and it wasn’t his fault it fell through.’

Of Bob Arum, his fabled US promoter, Fury says: ‘He’s almost 90. He’s seen everything. Anything he doesn’t know about boxing isn’t worth knowing. He knew I wouldn’t want to pay a single cent to Wilder to step aside when the legal judgment came down saying I had to fight him again.

‘Nor was there any chance of him paying the $20million Wilder’s people were asking. He just got on with nailing down the Allegiant Stadium in Vegas in July for the trilogy.’

Hearn, with whom he has traded some vicious Instagram barbs, will be surprised to read this: ‘Eddie’s good at his job. For a young man he’s done fantastic over the past few years. From three-rounders with Prizefighter he’s gone on to monopolise Sky and sign excellent fighters here in America with DAZN. It doesn’t matter if I like him or not. I can only comment on what I see.

The Gypsy King admires Eddie Hearn but refused to say whether he liked Joshua’s promoter

‘Although I have to say that he and his father Barry made the biggest mistake of their lives when they didn’t sign me after three years out of action. We met but they thought I would never lose the weight, that I wouldn’t even make the comeback, that they’d lose their money.’

And while he lays most of the blame for the collapse of the fight with Joshua on ‘so-called world-class lawyers,’ Fury does not absolve Hearn of some responsibility.

‘It seemed that every Saturday for months he announced the fight would be finalised the next week,’ says Fury. ‘That was pretty stupid. It’s all about ego. Power trips. Then it’s egg on the face. That’s what happens when you talk too much.’

Fury also suspects that Hearn and Joshua were trying to test any lingering mental vulnerability by frustrating him with delays: ‘Even when I gave a deadline they kept dragging it back. Joshua had his winter fight. Despite that I still agreed to August 14, even though that would have been me out of the ring for 19 months. They were up to their magic trickery again.

Fury insists both Joshua (left) and Hearn (right) pushed back talks of their Saudi Arabia clash

‘How did that work out, gentlemen? I’m fine. I’m back on the Vegas Strip, in the first heavyweight trilogy fight since Holyfield-Bowe and Ali-Frazier before that. They knew all along that the legal arbitration was in process and now they’re left with Joshua stuck between a rock and a hard place.

‘They’ve done it to themselves. You can see they know that by all the whining in their interviews. I don’t think they fancy the Ukrainian guy (undefeated Oleksandr Usyk) for the fight he needs in August. And with their DAZN deal it looks now as if that will be their last fight with Joshua.

‘Usyk is a southpaw, clever, technically very good. He’s smaller as a former cruiserweight champion but he handled Derek Chisora, who is physically tougher than Joshua. So while I’m absolutely confident of beating Wilder, I’m not so sure about AJ not losing his fight.’

If so, that would remove the WBA, IBF and WBO titles from the Fury-Joshua equation and with them the chance of either becoming the first undisputed world heavyweight champion of the four-belt era.

Fury admits he does not know whether Joshua can beat next opponent Oleksandr Usyk (above)

Not that Fury would be unduly concerned: ‘I’m not bothered about belts. They’re nice to dream about until you get them. But wouldn’t me and Joshua still be the biggest fight in boxing? Even if we were both belt-less, wouldn’t we still fill the biggest stadium you can find?

‘Wouldn’t it still make fortunes on pay-per-view with BT and Sky? Top fighters are not defined by the belts. Top fighters define the belts.’

Nor, despite the multi-millions he has banked, does Fury believe that money buys happiness. ‘I sit here today,’ he says, ‘as a man who has done very well financially and in my career. And I’m happy. But no more happy than when I was 17 and earning a few quid from buying cars at auction, doing them up and getting them out the door.

‘I wasn’t a millionaire but I wasn’t a pauper. I built my confidence bidding for vehicles under the hammer, then selling them. That’s what made me a good talker. I’ve been a salesman all my life. I’m a millionaire now but that doesn’t make me more happy than I was then.

The Gypsy King reinstates his viewpoint that money cannot buy you happiness in this world

‘It’s too easy to get caught up in the rat race, the want for the treasures of the world. The difference between being a multi-billionaire and a working man is a mindset. How you feel as a person. If you’ve got a nine-to-five job and you get £350 quid a week and you’re content with that, you’re in a better situation than a man whose making 300 grand a week but won’t be satisfied unless he gets 600. Guys like that will never be happy. They’re manic, obsessive, greedy b*******s.

‘In the movie Troy, Agamemnon says, “I want what all men want. I just want more.” Well I just want to breathe fresh air. I’m happy sitting here talking to you knowing that I’m not going to lose my sanity, think about killing myself, or worry about ending up in a padded cell.’

In 2015 Fury considered standing as MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale. Now he says: ‘I’ve learned to stay in my own lane. Boxing, training, mental health are my strong suits. It’s up to people in politics to run the world, not me.

‘I try to lead a simple life, to teach our kids to fear God, appreciate what they have. To work hard, respect people and their property. If I can do that then I’ll have succeeded as a parent.’

Therein lies the contradiction of how a man recovering from mental anguish turned lockdown to his advantage.

Fury claims he is sticking to boxing after moving into other areas like politics a few years ago

He says: ‘Of course Covid has been tragic for many people. But for others it has been a blessing in disguise, helping them realise what’s really important in life.

‘Lockdown will change many lives, those who come out of it as better people. When going out to a bar or restaurant is taken away from you, it dawns that you don’t have to do it. That it’s good to stay home, too. Because you’ve already survived.

‘After the last Wilder fight I would normally have been buzzing around all over the place. Instead I did what I’ve basically been doing for the last three years. Being at home with Paris and the kids. Barbecuing. Doing odd jobs in the house. Gardening. Bike rides. Walks. Priceless.

‘In fact 2020 was one of the best years of my life. Won the biggest fight yet of my generation. Became a two-time world champion. Earned a lot of money. Got my own gym. Began setting up my foundation to bring kids into sports. And it’s been just as good so far this year. Working on improvements with Sugar. Most of all, quality time with my family.’

The 32-year-old claims 2020 was the best year of his career, when he beat Wilder in a rematch

The latter included taking his nine-year-old son Prince to Las Vegas from Los Angeles in a hire car. ‘It made for a weekend I will remember for ever,’ Fury says. ‘We will always be able to say we took that iconic road trip together, bonding. We met loads of great people, saw the sights. Priceless times.’

So how many more are in the pipeline? ‘It starts with a story nobody knows.’ he says. ‘Paris became my girlfriend when she was 15 and me 16. When time came for marriage, I asked her how many children she wanted. She said 10. I said that will do for me. Now we’ve decided to go for one more. Make it 11. Let’s have a mixed football team playing on the pitch at Morecambe.’

As well as six bathrooms and two double garages, the new villa in the most salubrious area in Vegas has six bedrooms. ‘We’re going to need them,’ he says. ‘There was interest in the place. Luckily I’m a cash buyer. Sometimes money helps.’

Her pregnancy will prevent Paris from giving her usual support on July 24. ‘It’s disappointing,’ she says. ‘I like to be there for him at ringside.’

Fury has five children with his wife Paris (second left) with the couple planning to have 10 or 11

Even so, she shares her husband’s Catholic belief that all will go well.

Fury says: ‘People say it was me who brought myself out of that dark place. I tell them that without faith we have nothing.

‘Through faith I was able to get up in the morning, get up in that 12th round of the first Wilder fight when he knocked me unconscious. Through faith I’ve gone from being someone people loved to hate to someone people love to love.’

As if on cue he receives a text from Mike Tyson. It reads: ‘How you doing, Tyson? We’ve just been thinking and talking about you.’

Fury glances again at his phone and says: ‘I keep a few verses from the Bible with me.’ His favourites at the moment are from the Book of Job, about a man who lost everything including his family and riches but never denied God.

‘That’s me. You could strip everything else from me. My achievements, my championships, my money, even my wife and family. Even humiliate me in the street by p***ing all over me. But I would never deny God.

Fury claims no matter what you strip away from him – he will never deny God in his life

‘If ever I feel everything is against me I look at the verses and they rejuvenate me. I would like to share them with you.

‘Job 1, 9: Have I not commanded you to be courageous? Do not be afraid nor discouraged for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

‘Job 1, 5: No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses so I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you.

‘How powerful is that? And people ask me if I’m afraid of Wilder, a mere man wearing a pair of boxing gloves? Don’t think so.’

There speaks the real Tyson Luke Fury. As charming, intelligent and amusing as any fighting man could be. Sane, too. Thank God.




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