Fury fighting blood
When Peter Fury walked free from prison following a long stretch for possession and conspiracy to supply amphetamines few would have imagined that he would walk out alongside Tyson Fury for a shot at long-time heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko a handful of years later.
Peter started training his nephew in 2012. A former pro, he came back to the sport when his son, Hughie, told him that he was unhappy with his amateur set-up. He is boxing’s version of the Godfather’s Tom Hagen, a man with a small, mostly family-based clientele. Now his name will be saved for posterity courtesy of the role he played in guiding Fury to the heavyweight crown via a clear decision win at Dusseldorf’s ESPIRIT Arena in November.
“I’d never sat back and thought about it all until you just mentioned it, it is a wonderful achievement in every aspect,” said Fury when speaking to Boxing Monthly about his place in boxing’s history books.
“I’m ecstatic that Tyson fulfilled the potential we knew he had, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer young man. I’m happy for my family, and for the people who believed in me and supported me—it’s a team effort.
“I work very, very hard at what I do. I dedicated myself to this. I deal with my family. There’s no egos here, we just do the best we can. We go back a few hundred years as fighters. We’ve had all kinds of fighters in our family so it is a great achievement to do it in their name as well.
“We have family on Tyson’s mother's side who were excellent fighters in the Gypsy community. I spent a lot of time with [bare knuckle boxer] Uriah Burton as a young man. He was a fantastic character and fighter. Fighting goes back on both Tyson’s father and mother’s sides, and on my mother’s and father’s. Uriah was the ‘King of the Gypsies’ in his day. We are from fighting stock. It’s not just in our blood and genes, we married into it and were brought up in it.”
Klitschko is seen as a gentleman boxer. The 39-year-old Ukrainian speaks more than one language, holds a PhD and is the epitome of politeness. However, he also has a keen competitive edge and is notoriously difficult during negotiations.
Still, the Furys experienced the sharp end of big fight discussions in 2013 when they signed on to fight David Haye, a bout that fell through due to injuries sustained by the former cruiserweight champion and WBA heavyweight titlist.
“It was our first world title shot, but we’ve had people backing out (of fights) and the experience that comes with that as well as what comes outside of boxing, peoples’ tricks and all that,” stated Fury.
The path to the world title had a last-minute bump in the road when the defending champion picked up a calf injury in training. The contest was pushed back a month to allow him the chance to recuperate. Fury believes that the delay was engineered to test the challenger’s focus.
“It was just another stunt, basically, an attempt to ruffle us because if you’ve peaked at the right time only for the fight to be pulled you might overtrain. We found the balance and all these advantages were something we tried to negate. These are all tricks of the trade, ones that we won’t ever use because I don’t like it.
“I give Wlad maximum credit for fighting Tyson, though, because Haye wouldn’t even get into the ring with him. All we got from the Haye fights was a load of excuses. Apparently he can never fight again because of his injuries—a specialist told him that—but now he’s back. It’s a big joke.”
A master at pre-fight psychological warfare, Klitschko had little success with Fury. A screenwriter once wrote that the Irish are immune to psychoanalysis, mistakenly attributing the quote to Sigmund Freud.
There might be some truth to that claim if you apply it to the travelling community. Fury seemed to gain a pre-fight psychological edge over his opponent and remained unfazed when his team discovered that the ring had a lot of additional padding then found out that Wlad had wrapped his hands without the presence of a supervisor. Many saw this as a final attempt to rattle the challenger.
“You’re not going to get a psychological edge over Tyson, it will never happen as he’s a fighting man down to the soles of his boots,” argued Fury. “Tyson looks at any man with boxing gloves on as human, no one in the world can intimidate him. You can forget about it if you think you’re going to make him worried.”
The issue of the canvas was an entirely different matter, though.
“[Sky’s] Glenn McCrory said it made us look bad and we should have left it, people go over there with that attitude and that’s why Klitschko has reigned for so long. People don’t realise how much of a difference it makes. A softer ring would have effected Tyson’s movement. You don’t box on a beach, it’s not possible—that’s what the ring was like to begin with.
“I won’t allow tricks and all that (from my fighters) as it’s not in my makeup. I like it fair and square. If you can fight and you’re the best fighter on the planet then just use that. No tricks or games. We just wanted everything the way it should be, we asked for nothing out of the ordinary.
“The ring was still very soft, but it was doable. You should have seen the soles of Tyson’s feet at the end of the fight, the skin came right off them because of the soft ring. Tyson ended up with bandages on his feet. For three or four days he had to be helped in and out of his car, people don’t see that.”
The deposed champion has exercised a contractual rematch clause. Peter believes that a repeat performance will underline his charge’s credentials.
“Wlad is a great champion who came up against a phenomenal heavyweight, people need to wake up and realise that he’s not past it. He has not been in a hard fight for 11-years, let alone lost, so people should give respect where it is due. You’ll see something special again in April or June.
“I’ve always said Tyson’s an exceptional boxer and talent, you’ve not seen it before because he’s played with the opposition. What we saw in Germany was sixty percent of what I see on a daily basis from him. The ring was soft, it was his first world title fight and he was abroad going into the unknown. Take all that into account then look at the performance. We’re happy with it, you will see more next time.”
The victory over Klitschko was also a vindication of their decision to stick with long-time promoter Mick Hennessy, who has seen TV deals and fighters come and go yet always manages to produce the goods at crucial times. Peter told me that their business is conducted on the basis of a handshake.
“No paperwork, no contracts. How can you do business on a mega scale with someone you can’t trust? Mick stood with us. We had difficult times like everyone else, but he’s been with us through hard times and good times—he’ll be with us until the end.
“If you’re very good at what you do then you will shine through. Mick’s a proper promoter, he’s still got Tyson but a lot of names jumped ship otherwise he’d still have a load of fighters: Carl Froch, James DeGale and many others left him. Mick has got his just reward now because he has the heavyweight world champion and a fighter who will be around for a hell of a long time.”
Following the win, the team made their way to the U.K. by P & O ferry. They then celebrated the victory in true Fury style. “Tyson drove back from Germany and we went through Scotland,” he revealed.
“There was snow in a field so he got out and had a snowball fight. Where do you draw the line? The undisputed champion of the world is having a snowball fight two days after driving himself back—no return flights, nothing like that. He’s happy-go-lucky. He doesn’t care about perceptions.”
“You can’t be yourself today,” added Fury. “A lot of people don’t put a foot wrong because they have media training. It’s almost like going to school, they’re programmed with: ‘If this comes up don’t say that, if that comes up say this’—and these people cost a lot of money. All of these world-class sports stars have them. Tyson’s his own man, he gets flack for not having a key in his back and for not getting told what to say.”