British boxer Tyson Fury is a character. He entered the ring for his fight Saturday night in Las Vegas dressed in red, white and blue like Apollo Creed while “Living in America” (by James Brown) played over the speakers. Prior to the fight, he took a microphone at a press conference, called up to the stage his opponent, Tom Schwarz of Germany, and smiled and joked with Schwarz in German.
Fury is also a really good boxer. He took down the relatively unknown Schwarz in the second round Saturday, thus retaining the lineal heavyweight world title. After doing so, Fury was quick to thank God:
“First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the victory tonight,” he said.
Fury became the world heavyweight champion in November 2015, when he upset Wladimir Klitschko for three world titles (WBA, IBF and WBO), and hasn’t lost since. Following Saturday’s TKO victory, the 6-foot-9, 263-pound Fury ran his record to 28-0-1 with 20 KOs.
He has faced many battles, though — drug and alcohol abuse, weight gain and nearly suicide. The 30-year-old Fury was out of boxing for 31 months before returning to the ring in 2018, when he won two fights leading up to a match with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in December. That bout ended in a controversial draw. Fury was knocked down twice, but many thought he was the better fighter that night.
After the second knockdown, Fury said he was unconscious.
“I don’t know how I got up,” Fury said afterward. “I had a holy hand upon me, that brought me back, and I’ve got a fighting spirit and I never say die, I get back up.” He later added, “I am a fighting man and Jesus had His power over me tonight.”
Fury and Wilder are expected to meet again in the first quarter of 2020. Leading up to that much-anticipated fight, Fury is expected to have a tune-up match in late September or early October, and Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) is expected to fight Luis Ortiz earlier in September.
In the meantime, Fury will continue to use his platform to speak about the mental health issues that nearly led him to commit suicide, and caused him to be stripped of the sanctioning organization title belts he had won from Klitschko.
“I was on the way to a bridge doing 160 mph in a high-performance car,” Fury told the Rich Eisen Show two weeks ago, “and I was 100 percent certain this was the day I was going to end it all. [It was] 2016, 28 years old, undefeated world heavyweight champion, and I’m on a one-way ticket to death.
“And just before I hit this bridge, I hear a voice in my mind that says, ‘Don’t do this. This is not what you’re going to do because think about your kids who are going to grow up with no father. Everyone’s going to say you’re a weak person. No.’ And I pulled the car over immediately. I was shaking. And I called for help immediately. My father came and collected me.”
Fury advised anyone who might be dealing with similar issues to also seek help, and to communicate with others. He said if it weren’t for his family and the help of his doctors, he wouldn’t be here today.
“If God is with us,” Fury says in the bio on his Twitter page with 1.18 million followers, “who can be against us.”
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