Photo Credits: Dave Thompson
Big John Fury held his tiny son born three months premature on the 12th of August 1988. Barely weighing one pound few believed that his son would survive, few that is except John Fury.
So convinced was John that he barked at one doctor that his son would not only survive but grow to nearly seven feet tall, weigh twenty stone and become the heavyweight champion of the world.
John continued his harangue of the doctor stating that he was naming his dying son Tyson after the current Heavyweight champion
John’s brazen pronouncements would ultimately become prophecy.
Tyson Luke Fury ultimately won his first battle - merely to live. He survived his birthday and in doing so set a precedent for defying the odds and conventional expectations. One expectation that he would ultimately go on to meet and exceed however would be his expected entrance into the family business and for the Fury family that business was fighting!
A lineage of fighting Fury men reaching back for some ten generations within the nomadic Traveller clan that has roamed Ireland and England for hundreds of years, to which Tyson Fury was apart and it was taken for granted that young Tyson would join their ranks and to in fact become the best among them the Gypsy King.
As it happens there would be a precedent for that as well. There were two Gypsy Kings - the honorific title given to the best bare-knuckle fighting man amongst the travellers in Tyson’s bloodline, one on his mother’s side the other on his father’s. Peter Fury, Tyson’s uncle recounted a story where the sitting King took him aside and talked hopefully about the potential of future offspring since Peter’s brother John was courting the King’s niece and they would soon be married.
Once again John’s earlier declarations seemed prescient as Tyson Fury grew quickly - so quickly and after dropping out of school in the 9th grade the 14-year-old Tyson already 6’6” and over 200 pounds sparred one day with his father John a well known and successful bare-knuckle prizefighter in his own right and broke John’s rib with one right hook to the body. Rather than being angry with his son, he was jubilant! Tyson Fury would be a force to be reckoned with.
Tyson’s adult frame and frightening gifts were stoked by a simmering anger brought on by the perceived prejudice and ill-treatment by the larger British society on the Traveller community.
Gypsies have been persecuted for thousands of years. Everywhere we go we are the most hated group of people in the world.
Irrespective of the slurs and prejudices endured by Tyson’s family and those in other Travelling families, a current of violence and anger runs as deep in Fury’s veins as his championship roots. John Fury was absent from his son’s life due to a decade spent in prison for grievously injuring another member of a travelling clan taking the man’s eye out with John’s bare hands. And Peter Fury, Tyson’s uncle was a renowned crime boss in Manchester, he too spent a decade in prison on various charges connected with violent crime.
Nevertheless despite his and his family’s checkered past as Tyson climbed the boxing ranks it encouraged John and Peter to leave their criminal pasts behind and move on to looking after Tyson’s burgeoning career in boxing. John would become omnipresent in his son’s life and Peter would become his nephew’s head boxing coach and results were forthcoming
As an amateur Tyson boxed for both Ireland and England. Tyson won Bronze at the AIBA Youth World Championships in 2006 and won the European Union Junior Championship in 2007. Tyson narrowly missed qualifying for the 2008 UK Olympic team losing his place to David Price who has just made a comeback to boxing. Tyson turned pro that year and was now a full grown man standing 6’9” tall weighing well over 230 pounds and a 7-foot reach, Tyson would immediately wreak havoc on the British heavyweight scene.
Tyson would wreak havoc in the British media as well. He became known for his brash trash talk. He caused controversy with his comments about women, homosexuals, Jews and so on. As his star rose in the sport beating legitimate domestic heavyweight contenders winning the British Heavyweight title along the way his behaviour became more erratic and unpredictable not unlike the namesake his father had chosen for him all those years ago.
Photo Credits: Lars Baron
When he shocked the world by beating Wladimir Klitschko the reigning undisputed heavyweight champion of the world few could have predicted his greatest accomplishment would seal his fate and began a new long and strange trip for Tyson Fury.
Just 10 days after his historic victory the IBF stripped Fury of their belt for failing to immediately sign the rematch per the clause Klitschko had in the original contract.
Negotiations for the rematch continued early into 2016 however and in April a date and venue were announced, Fury-Klitschko II at the Manchester Arena on 9 July but plans were scuppered again when Fury’s team announced on 24 June that he’d sustained an ‘injury.’ On that same day, United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) announced that Tyson and his cousin were being charged with using PEDs based on a sample collected more than a year before. Team Fury vigorously denied the charge then infamously announced the elevated testosterone levels were the result of eating meat from an uncastrated wild boar.
The rematch between Fury and Klitschko was now on the ropes.
The knockout blow came when Fury’s team announced on 23 September that Tyson had been found ‘medically unfit’ due to problems with depression and a positive cocaine test right before he pulled out of the scheduled rematch.
On 12 October 2016, nearly a year to the day Tyson had won all the belts off of Wladimir Klitschko Tyson Fury voluntarily vacated the IBO, WBA (unified) & WBO heavyweight title belts.
In 1922 Ring Magazine bestowed their first lineal title on Jack Dempsey. Dempsey was the undisputed heavyweight champion at the time but educated boxing fans knew that this was no mere trinket, Ring Magazine was simply officially recognizing what we all knew:
To be The Man, you have to beat The Man.
Dempsey now represented a parentage as the heavyweight champion of the world that already stretched back decades, to the mid-1880s and the first recognized heavyweight champion the mighty John L. Sullivan.
Tyson had written himself into that scroll. His name will forever appear alongside the greats of the past and God Willing those of the future.
Now more than two years after this whole rollercoaster began Ring made the unprecedented move to strip Tyson of the only title he had left, the one you can only lose in the ring - that lineal title belt. It was not a decision the Bible of Boxing entered into lightly:
THE RING set a deadline (January 31) for Fury to reveal an opponent. However, no such announcement has been made by the fighter’s promoter, hence the decision to remove Fury as champion. Fury will also be removed from THE RING heavyweight rankings for the time being.
We at THE RING would like to make it clear that this decision had not been taken lightly. THE RING championship belt is the closest representation to a lineal champion in the sport today, and Tyson Fury was extremely proud to be part of our heavyweight history.
So as of 31 January 2018 the lineal title is vacant for the first time in its unbroken history of nearly a century.
Ring’s panel has also announced they were withholding adding the title to the scheduled fight between WBO Heavyweight champion Joseph Parker and unified champion Anthony Joshua to take place in late March 2018. This due to WBC Champion Deontay Wilder being the clear #2 as Ring sees it and AJ/ Parker are merely consolidating titles.
Tyson was characteristically nonchalant. He tweeted this message in response:
Just like to thank the @ringmagazine for being so patient with me over the last few years. this will be the first time since 1922 that the ring magazine will split from the heavyweight lineage. Tyson fury always setting precedences.
It’s worth mentioning that Tyson has lived his entire life at extremes and literally from the day he was born he’s been fighting. The hulking super heavyweight could have been the next dominant force in boxing and while some struggle to acknowledge the accomplishments of Klitschko due to a perceived lack of depth in the division there would be no such argument when one looks at the current top 5 heavyweight boxers. Moreover, boxing as a whole being more popular now than at any time during Klitschko’s reign could have ensured Tyson earning enormous amounts of money. Tyson is a brilliant self-promoter, a once in a generation trash talker and a physical freak of nature.
Tyson beat every opponent he ever faced in a boxing ring, yet the ghosts of the man he’s named after haunt him, manifesting in his own personal demons of excess and undiagnosed mental illness.
Fans of the Gypsy King have hope, however. In December he came to an agreement with UKAD and was sentenced to time served at his hearing for suspected use of PEDs nearly three years ago. He has made peace with the British Boxing Board of Control as well and his path to licensure seems to be clear so long as his medicals are up to date. He is signed with new promoter MTK Global who scored quite the coup adding Tyson Fury to their roster.
Photo Credits: Twitter/ Ricky Hatton
Now Tyson needs to get serious. The energy he wastes tweeting incessantly must be focused toward shifting 100 pounds or more as Tyson gained an obscene amount of weight in his absence from boxing. He will need to address his mental health issues head-on as well. Tyson is only 29 years old and would be entering his physical prime as a fighting man. There is no objective reason that he cannot make a successful comeback, become relevant again and reclaim his crown.
Boxing is a sport pathologically reliant on its lineage and history, Tyson Fury the Gypsy King left an indelible mark on that history, however, his future is in his hands alone and it’s up to him to ensure he becomes more than a passing footnote.7 min