The British former world heavyweight champion opened up about the dark years his fans knew nothing about
Tyson Fury entered a press conference ahead of his world heavyweight title fight against the great Wladimir Klitschko, donning the outfit of the superhero, Batman. But little did anyone know of the demons deep inside.
It was the beginning of one of boxing’s most entertaining pre-fight press conferences. Tyson Fury has never been known to shy away from the spotlight and took his opponent, Klitschko, by surprise.
But despite going on to shock the Ukrainian in Dusseldorf, claiming all four world heavyweight belts, things very quickly unraveled for the new, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
The now 31-year-old recalled returning to his dressing room following the biggest victory of his career and immediately feeling lower than he had ever done before.
It’s a feeling that seems impossible to comprehend by anyone who was looking on from the outside. And little did boxing fans know it’d be his last fight for over two-and-a-half years.
A man who’d expressed so much confidence and personality with his commanding presence, would later admit coming so very close to ending his own life.
But how did one of the best heavyweight fighters in the world find his life come crashing down around him so soon after writing his name into boxing history?
“I certainly never went anywhere to get help as a young lad because I didn’t know I needed to, and my family didn’t realise there was such a big issue to address either, because they didn’t understand my behaviour at times.” Fury said in his autobiography, Behind The Mask.
“Boxing helped me because when I was focused on boxing, when I had my mind set on something, a goal, a challenge, then I was generally in a good place in those young amateur days.
“The problems often came when I would go back to everyday reality, periods of inactivity as a fighter, which is something that I would also have to deal with later in my career as a professional fighter. In these periods I would get so low that I would feel suicidal.”
Fury was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016, but had already by this point conquered the heavyweight division, without the boxing community being aware of his mental health struggles.
“At first, and this was many years before my depression was diagnosed, Paris [Tyson’s wife] couldn’t come to terms with how my mood would change and it would frustrate her,” Fury admitted.
“She knew there was something not quite right with me because when we were first dating she would witness how my temperament could change like the flick of a switch.”
The Tyson Fury which has since returned to the ring has come back noticeably different – somewhat toned down from the often chaotic and outrageously outspoken persona he showcased previously.
He has since admitted as much himself, recalling how the character he had created for himself helped him to mask the painful battles that were going on in his head.
“I would be at a point when I was constantly in a bad mood and go into a raging temper, screaming and shouting for no reason,” the 31-year-old added.
“There were times when I woke up feeling on top of the world and then feeling the world was on top of me, at times wanting to die every day.
“In the Travellers community this kind of thing was not something that was faced up too. The attitude was kind of, ‘Shake it off, what’s your problem?’
“In fairness, I think no matter what background people are from, this is often the attitude people going through mental health issues are faced with.”
And, unfortunately, that is the sad reality for so many men and women around the world. But with Fury’s voice now being heard, he has proven to be yet another shining example of someone getting to grips with their mental health.
Victory over mental health
Fury will never be clear of bipolar disorder but is now receiving the right support and guidance, both professionally and from his family, to help him overcome those bad days.
For a man with a macho demeanour like Fury, it’s truly commendable that he has so openly expressed his past troubles and been brave enough to seek the support he’s required.
It emphasises that no matter how tough someone may appear on the outside, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with their mental state.
And, quite brilliantly, nothing could have epitomised Fury’s fight against mental health more so than his latest world title fight against American Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles.
The Manchester-born fighter appeared to be down and out for the first defeat of his career when heavy-hitting Wilder sent Fury to the canvas. However, remarkably, he rose to his feet once more to shock the Staples Centre crowd.
That bout ultimately ended in a draw. But where mental health is concerned, Tyson Fury most certainly won.