The biggest name in boxing right now is Tyson Fury after his February 22 victory over the previously undefeated heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Fury was dominant in the win, but if all you looked at was the victory you’d miss out on the whole story of the man.
Fury’s boxing career — and life — is one marked with many triumphs and tribulations. He’s had a crazy career in which he’s overcome incredible odds just to be able to fight.
Tyson Fury’s early-life struggles and childhood
Fury’s career has always been one of struggle. Every great story has a beginning, and Fury’s struggles began quite literally at the beginning of his story — at his birth.
The future heavyweight champion was born prematurely and weighed only one pound. Doctors didn’t think he would make it. According to Fury’s father, Fury “nearly died twice” after his mother gave birth to him. There was something about the infant that gave his father hope:
“I could put him in the palm of my hand and looking at him I thought ‘this is a strange encounter with life’. I had this tremendous feeling…When I put my hand on his small frame, I could feel the life in him. I said to the doctor ‘he will make it’…I thought ‘you’re a special human being’. There was something about him…He has defied the odds since day one. Maybe this is just who he is.”
As remarkable as the story of Fury’s birth is, it would hardly be the last of the hard times he’d face in his life.
The early career struggles of Tyson Fury
Fury has faced both depression and substance abuse issues during his career. Fury admittedly abused both cocaine and alcohol despite his early-career success. The fame and fortune of boxing greatness couldn’t help mask his inner pain:
“I could not pinpoint what made me depressed…I was rich, successful, young, healthy, had a family, fame – everything a man could dream of – but I was still depressed…To subside that depression other things happened.”
Fury also tested positive for steroids in 2015. UK Anti-Doping punished him for it. Despite Fury’s problems, he was able to address them and turn his life around in a positive way:
“I woke up every day wishing I would not wake up anymore…But I am living proof anyone can come back from the brink…There is a lot of people out there suffering with mental health problems who think all their days will be grey, but life can improve again and you will start to enjoy the little things again.”
The twisted and triumphant path of Tyson Fury’s boxing career
Fury has never lost a professional boxing match. He’s 30-0-1 in his career. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect record was his first fight with Wilder. The two fought to a draw. Prior to his second bought with Wilder, Fury’s most notable victory was a decision over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
The culmination of Fury’s hard work and struggle came in his TKO win over Wilder in February. The fight put the championship belt back across Fury’s shoulder and sets him up to either have a rematch with Wilder or fight another top heavyweight, Anthony Joshua.
It may be tempting to look at Fury’s story and think of what he could have been without his drug and depression problems. But it’s also fair to ask whether Fury would have reached the top of the boxing world without them.
All the issues he dealt with made him the fighter is today, and changing any of that may have left him worse off. It’s certainly made him better when dealing with adversity.