Last Saturday night in Dusseldorf was incredible for boxing. Though the undercard was poor and the main event lacked any real substance, the outcome shocked the world. Tyson Fury – against all odds – was crowned Heavyweight champion of the world, having outpointed Wladimir Klitschko in front of 50,000+ fans.
Given that Tyson Fury was as far out as 4/1 to win with most bookmakers, and given the fact he dominated the 11-year world champion from the first bell until last, you’d expect praise to be flooding in from all four corners of the globe. Sadly, it didn’t.
Relevant media, including The Times’ chief sports writer Matt Dickinson, were quick to play down the significance of Fury’s victory, with Dickinson personally launching a series of scathing attacks on Fury via Twitter, branding him ‘the worst champion ever’ and ‘a nasty bigot’. The Sun were also quick to rain on the new champion’s parade – publishing an article titled: ‘Tyson Fury win shows new low for heavyweight boxing’.
Was the abuse at all necessary, though? The Fury family are a unique package within world boxing. They’re loud, proud and close-knit beyond belief. Admittedly, they aren’t all role-models. Tyson has been involved in more than his fair share of media controversy, and his father John served five years behind bars for gouging a man’s eye out. If you were to ask them, they’d undoubtedly tell you they’re far from perfect – there’s no shame in that.
Do the imperfections of the Fury family take anything away from what was an unbelievable performance to dethrone one of the greatest champions of the 21st century? It’s hypocritical. I’d almost guarantee the same individuals and institutions jumping on Tyson Fury’s back, were the same ones who loved and adored Mike Tyson when he was clearing out the division. People forget quickly – Mike Tyson did some pretty bad things outside (sometimes inside) of the ring. He was a criminal. Did that take away from his fighting credentials? Absolutely not.
In the eyes of many (myself included), the Fury team are refreshing. No PR, no deception, no lies. They believe in one another, and let no-one between them. Family aside for a brief second – even Mick Hennessey believed in his man from day one. They stuck together through thick and thin, with such displays of loyalty often sparse in the sport today. Following a euphoric victory, Tyson described his and Mick’s journey together as the ‘real-life Jerry Maguire story’. Tell me where else in boxing you can see such an incredible friendship between fighter and promoter? They’ve climbed from rock-bottom to the summit of boxing’s marquee division, and they’ve done it the hard way.
The unity was clear to see in the dressing room before Tyson had even made his way into the ring. Prayers were shared in a huddle by both Christian and Muslim team Fury members wishing for a successful night, as well as for the wellbeing and safety of both fighters. The moment captured what Fury and his team were all about; faith, dedication, self-belief and unity. Regardless of past controversies and wrongdoings, that is an admirable set of values to operate within.
Perhaps if Fury prevails in a rematch with Klitschko (which WILL take place in 2016), he may just get a fraction of the praise he deserves as a fighter, if not a human being. Any British boxing fan should be excited about the future, and grateful to Tyson Fury. The belts are coming back to the United Kingdom, and the potential for blockbuster fights on our very shores is unlimited. Here’s to the Fury clan, and here’s to the future.