Tyson Fury—The Boxing Superhero
By Ben Thomsett on January 28, 2020
I liked him straight away. It was in a time before people cared about anything he had to say.
“Just reading through some of the tweets regarding potential AJ/ Fury not being in UK because of money on offer from Saudi … Tweets containing ‘why does a boxer need all that money anyway?’ Let’s start with, they can die in the ring.”—Kugan Cassius [UK Boxing vid blogger]
Grim reading on all fronts. The truth of the matter is that boxing is dangerous. There are deaths every year shortly after fights finish, and the consequences of repeatedly being hit in the head aren’t truly studied or appreciated despite one of the greatest boxers ever dying of trauma-induced brain disease. In Scotland, the local government is about to ban school children from heading a football during sports lessons because studies have shown repeated thuds to the head can cause long-term damage. Footballs…. Not a right hook from a two hundred pound athlete who’s been practicing that punch every day for the last ten years.
Head punches in boxing haven’t been banned in Scotland. I don’t know why.
Boxers are a different breed; so far removed from their general PPV audience and the man/woman in the street that it’s as if a shoal of mackerel are watching the first screening of the moon landing. Boxers do things that you or I don’t. And can’t. They are superhuman, which is kind of like a carte blanche when it comes to all types of self-injurious behavior. They are tough; they chose the damage because, well, they say they can take it. ‘Didn’t you see him skipping for an hour? No human can do that! Okay….one…two ….three….. he’s not getting up….’
And some boxers are seen as Superheroes...
Carlos Monzon was a tough man, and in addition to being superhuman he was a superhero to many. Knocked down only once in his career, he was the chiseled man of the times; macho ad infinitum. Gritty boxing royalty. He could do it all in the ring, and when he fought live his home country came to a standstill as people stared up at black and white screens in bars and barber shops. He was idolized despite being a chain-smoking fully paid up alcoholic who beat women mercilessly in the privacy of places where the screams went unanswered. The Argentine public loved him for his boxing, and ignored the domestic abuse and murdering. They cheered for him at his funeral, “Dale Campeon!” His transgressions were barely acknowledged. Ace boxer; poor human being. No superhero really, least not to me. Domestic abusers are shit. Superheroes overcome something before they get to wear the cape and hit people in the face.
I first met Tyson Fury in 2013 while he was ticking over in the early stages of a training camp in Belgium that would eventually lead to him beating Steve Cunningham in Madison Square Garden. I liked Tyson straight away. It was in a time before people cared about anything he had to say. He was a tall, young, articulate, man whose thoughts were all over the place. I taped hours of interviews with him and never wrote any of them up. In fact, I haven’t listened to them since they were recorded. I remember discussing religion with him over a dinner cooked by his wife, Paris. We talked boxing, politics, and racism. He had strong views on every subject, as you’d imagine. I enjoyed his company. He was a fighter on the up. I felt he was fragile, but he was making it in the world, despite everything he had to battle in his own mind. He went on and fought and beat the monster, Klitschko, then bared his soul to all of us when he revealed his mental health struggles. Far from Carlos Monzon, you can only admire someone like that; having the guts to identify a flaw, then doing something to change it for the good of your family and yourself. Man, that kind of thing is not to be underestimated.
And now Tyson is a multi-millionaire and is about to become richer when he fights Deontay Wilder next month. From pantomime villain to someone even Anthony Joshua—his arch enemy—is backing to regain the World crown. Imagine that.
I don’t agree with Saudi Arabia cash-blinding the world from its human rights abuses, but I do agree that someone like Tyson—brave, dedicated, skilled, tough, talented—is paid millions to show us all that superheroes might just exist for real. Come the 22nd of February, watch and see.