Success has a tendency to change people. A taste of glory has swollen countless egos in boxing and often sent them spiralling out of control. Not so Peter Fury.
The trainer of the lineal heavyweight champion of the world remains as grounded as ever. When nephew Tyson Fury toppled boxing’s most established champion Wladimir Klitschko in Düsseldorf last November, new life was breathed into a stagnated division, but despite masterminding that tactical success Peter Fury has stayed refreshingly humble.
“I don’t pinch myself. I’m very grateful of the achievements, it means a lot for the family,” Fury told Boxing Monthly over the phone ahead of the 9 July rematch with Klitschko in Manchester.
Note: This article was published in our June 2016 edition of Boxing Monthly. The fight has since been postponed due to a foot injury suffered by the champion. A new date for the rematch is still to be announced.
“Me as a person, it hasn’t affected me in any way. My life has not changed one little bit. If somebody wants to give me a pat on the back I love all compliments and I’m very grateful, but it isn’t about me as a trainer – it’s about Tyson and [son, unbeaten heavyweight] Hughie and me helping them to where they want to be. We’ve worked tirelessly over the years perfecting [tactics], looking at every situation so they’ve got a good camp and knowledgeable people around them who know boxing inside out.
“For me, this rematch is no different. We have a job to do. We’re looking at [different] strategies and getting Tyson in fantastic shape. Wladimir is coming for the KO and to do different things. Tyson has to be ready for that and it’s up to us to make sure that he is. I think Wladimir will bite the bullet and get stuck in.
“I look at everything in a fight. But [Wladimir] has to take more chances to be in this fight and win it. We’re definitely going to see a better contest than the last one. Klitschko is going to bring it. Tyson is going to let his shots go a lot more. He’s going to be more comfortable, a lot of the uncertainty he felt before is not there now. Let’s not forget Tyson is 27 and he’s not reached his peak. Now he knows what it’s like at such a world level, I think you’re going to see a much different Tyson Fury as well as a different Klitschko. A more determined, focused performance [will come] from Klitschko because he is definitely coming to take the belts back.
“This is a super champion who has reigned at the top [for many years]. He’s fought all-comers and, just because he lost to Tyson Fury, his credibility has almost been downplayed overnight.
“This is a fabulous world champion, an elite champion like his brother. What they have achieved in world boxing…. they are Hall of Fame fighters. It just amazes me… the lack of respect. Look, this is what happens when Tyson Fury achieves anything. It does get downplayed by a lot of media and others.”
With his youth, underestimated boxing smarts and considerable size, the towering champion could conceivably reign for some years. His uncle certainly believes there is more in his fighter’s locker, but stresses that it is sporting achievement and not quick financial reward that is the motivating factor for the Furys.
“We’re not in boxing coming away from our families in severe training camp, month in, month out, to box and get a few quid,” he said. “It’s not about that, it’s not about having easy defences.”
“I want Tyson to wipe through the division and there’s only one way to prove it - to get on and do it. It’s one fight at a time but I’m happy to take the best fights out there, the most dangerous fights, because I want him to go down as a great heavyweight - and to be a great heavyweight you have to fight the best out there.
“Tyson is underestimated as a boxer with him being so tall. But the real boxing people, the purists, know exactly what he is. When you get in front of Tyson Fury in that ring he’s your worst nightmare in the world because he is rangy, he is tall and he is quick so basically he has all the attributes. I said years ago to his dad: ‘Look at his legs - he’s like a racehorse’. He’s built for boxing. He’s bred for boxing. He comes from a lineage of fighting people. It’s in his blood and in his genes. Everything about him is built to box, and I believe he can go all the way and do great things.
“But we can’t put him alongside the names of the greats because he has to achieve all that. This is his first step on the top of the mountain. He has a long way to go. He has to defend and be a great champion - like all the other past great champions. It’s too early to tell. You don’t know what tomorrow brings. This is a very serious fight with Klitschko. It’s by no means a foregone conclusion. This is a genuine 50-50 fight as far as I can see, but I do believe Tyson will come through it because he is a special kind of a character and very underrated box fighter. I think Tyson will be around for a long time.”
Tyson shoots from the hip and speaks from the heart and, in a country often mesmerised by political correctness, this can be a problem. Many enjoy Tyson’s humour and maverick personality, though not everyone shares the joke and spots the twinkle in his eye. But the champion’s outlandish public persona is misleading, according to his uncle.
“Sometimes there are regrets with some of the things he says,” Peter Fury admitted. “I’d rather him say things differently, but what we’ve got here is a unique person. I’m not going to try and shape his personality and character. He knows my views on bad language or whatever, but he is his own man. The disappointing thing for me is the public get the wrong side of him. He comes across [a certain way] sometimes and people think he is arrogant, but outside of boxing he could not be any different. This is a guy who is 6ft 9ins and has time for everybody, takes pictures, loves kids, loves his family, loves people, always laughing and joking, always in very good spirits and very humorous. He is nothing like the way he portrays himself so that’s a little bit frustrating because if people could see the real Tyson Fury they would warm to him a lot more.”
Understandably, the politics that saw Tyson’s IBF belt vacated shortly after that unanimous points victory over Klitschko still rankle. If there is an upside (alongside paying one less sanctioning fee), it adds extra spice to a lucrative unification showdown with new title-holder Anthony Joshua.
“The IBF belt being taken from Tyson wasn’t satisfactory - the way it was taken,” Peter said. “I’m not amused at what they did.”
“Saying that, I’ve got to give credit where it’s due. Eddie Hearn has guided Joshua to where he is, got him the belt and full credit to him. He’s done a marvellous job promoting Joshua and that’s a mega-fight down the road.
“So in one respect I’m happy about that because I think it’s better for the boxing public, but I’m not happy that belt was taken from Tyson. As far as I’m concerned, it was a theft. He’d just won the titles, and all of a sudden they are taking one straight off of him. It’s no support [by the IBF] for someone who had just done what Tyson achieved in Germany.”
A confrontation with Joshua would capture the imagination of boxing fans the world over, and this battle of unbeaten titleholders and contrasting personalities may be much closer than many believe.
“I’ve spoken to Eddie Hearn and said it’s a fight we would be very interested in,” Fury said. “Eddie said it’s a fight they would be very interested in, too, so if Tyson comes through against Klitschko, and Joshua keeps winning I think that fight could happen, possibly later on in the year. It’s a fight we would relish next, and Eddie is saying all the right things so hopefully that’s a fight we can make.
Peter Fury was impressed by Joshua’s two-round demolition of Charles Martin. “I thought it was a very good win,” he said. “If you’re coming out of the corner and you dismantle a man and take his IBF belt with one punch – it’s a fabulous performance. You can’t knock it. I thought he did what he had to do and exposed Charles Martin severely.
“Styles make fights and, if Joshua hits anybody, he’s dangerous. He can punch. He’s got similar power to [WBC champion] Deontay Wilder. Any big heavyweight is dangerous, but I don’t believe there is anyone who can touch Tyson at the moment. He is light years ahead of whatever’s available. This will be proven in due course, and is why we want to make these fights, so there is absolutely no doubt. If Tyson goes through everybody else in the division, and goes through them with ease, the statement is there.”
When the trainer was incarcerated in 1995, it would have seemed barely believable that he would emerge from a long prison stretch to steer his nephew to the world heavyweight championship, yet the best boxing stories have always been linked to redemption.
“I never even envisaged I would be a trainer or anything,” Fury said. “When I was in prison, I would fight for the fun of it with other inmates - that’s what we do, we’re fighting people. The only reason I got into boxing in the first place was because of family. My son and then Tyson came to me. Ultimately, I thank them because [otherwise] I wouldn’t have been in the sport. It made me realise just how much family means to me; to put my life on hold, put my businesses to one side, everything I was doing, quit all that and put my life into them. So family means everything. The love and affection that we have got as a team, as a family, this is why we are here today and with God’s grace as well.
He said he takes everything on a fight-by-fight basis. “Hopefully, for as long as we keep winning, the show will continue,” he said. “I think when Tyson hangs up his gloves and Hughie hangs up his gloves, that will be me as well. So I will have done my job for them. They will have had careers, and all I can say is I’ve done my best. That’s all I can do.
“Nothing has changed with Tyson. To the outside world there might be an aura around him, but he is just Tyson Fury [to me], a little boy kicking a football. I see him like a young boy. Like my son – it’s the same thing. Win or lose belts, he is not going to be any different in my eyes.”