'We’ve got to live today as if it’s our last day': Tyson Fury interview
Luke G. Williams
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Tyson Fury adopts an American twang as he talks to Boxing Monthly's Luke G. Williams ahead of his clash with Otto Wallin...
With just over a week until he faces Sweden’s Otto Wallin in defence of his lineal heavyweight championship, Tyson Fury more than lives up to his maverick reputation when Boxing Monthly speaks to him by phone from Las Vegas.
'The Gypsy King' is in high spirits throughout, adopting a faux American accent and persona for the duration of the interview. It’s the type of performance one might expect from a method actor or a comedian - that the 30-year-old Fury adopts such an approach is indicative of why many - this writer included – view him as not only the most compelling figure in boxing, but in all sport today.
The resulting conversation is classic Fury – by turns he proves charismatic and unpredictable, playful and perplexing, profound and flippant, with a touch of surreal absurdity thrown in for good measure.
So hold on to your hats and prepare for a wide-ranging 'Gypsy King' special that takes in why having children is better than beating, Klitschko, the importance of coffee, why we should live for today and much more besides…
BM: Thanks for sparing the time for BM Online.
TF: (in broad American accent – think Manchester meets Memphis): Absolutely, no problem!
BM: How are you feeling now that fight night with Otto Wallin is fast approaching?
TF: I’m absolutely fantastic right now. I’m here in Vegas working hard and chilling out. Drinking loads of beers, eating loads of steak and drinking tons of coffee. Coffee’s the secret!
BM: You seem to have picked up a bit of an American accent while you’ve been over in the States…
TF: Oh, you think so? I dunno!
BM: Otto Wallin is a boxer I’ve spoken to a few times. Nice guy. What’s your assessment of him and the challenge he presents?
TF: Say, I don’t really know about all that stuff. Alls [sic.] I knows [sic.] about is fighting and that stuff, right? Ben Davison, my head trainer, he’s the guy who’s gonna worry about this Otto Wallin and what he’s gonna do on the night.
BM: Is Vegas your second home now?
TF: Oh yeah, it’s absolutely fantastic to be here in the big city and the bright lights. You know how it feels – seeing your name on the strip - ‘The Gypsy King’ all over the place? It feels goddamn great!
BM: Last time out against Tom Schwarz you had an Apollo Creed influenced ring entrance. Can you reveal your plans for your entrance against Wallin?
TF: I’ve got something up my sleeve, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you now would it, buddy?
BM: Might there be a Mexican influence?
TF: Maybe … maybe not!
BM: When did you get to Vegas?
TF: I’ve been over here for about five weeks now, as you can tell by the accent. I’m training here in Nevada, Las Vegas, USA and everything’s been going just great!
BM: Looking to the future, there’s talk of a Deontay Wilder rematch in February of course...
TF: I’m just focused on next week right now, sir.
BM: You’re now an ambassador for Frank Bruno’s mental health foundation, tell me about your relationship with Frank and why you got involved.
TF: I think Frank’s a fantastic guy and the charity is fantastic. He does a lot of great stuff with a lot of great people. Frank Bruno was an excellent world champion, from the United Kingdom, of course. I got involved because Frank’s a helluva guy and I want to help the community, give back a little bit. That’s why I got involved.
BM: How’s the reception been for you in America since your Vegas debut against Tom Schwarz?
TF: Everybody loves me. I’m now American, as you can tell from the accent.
BM: Wearing those Uncle Sam trunks seems to have had quite an impact on you...
TF: They sure have had an impact on my vocabulary.
BM: What does the lineal championship mean to you? Looking back on that night when you deposed Wladimir Klitschko, what are your abiding memories of that night?
TF: It was one of the greatest nights of my life, 28 November 2015. It will go down in history forever. I’ll be forever remembered as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. I‘m so interested in that sort of stuff. I want to be known as a great fighter after I’m gone. I want to be known as the best. Fighting these guys gives me that position, right? I went to Germany and beat Wladimir Klitschko, then went to America and beat Deontay Wilder. I’m so interested in all of that. That’s what I want to be known for when I’m gone. When I’m finished, when I’m retired, it really matters to me when I’m sitting in my front room having some snacks what everyone else is saying who is outside of my living room. [Beating Klitschko] was like the sixth or seventh best thing that’s ever happened to me.
BM: What ranks higher – having your kids?
TF: I have five children, right? That ranks higher than winning a fight. And l’m married to my beautiful wife Paris, and that ranks higher. So [Klitschko] ranks number seven.
BM: Having two daughters myself I understand that ranking.
TF: There you go – and you rank them over anything you’ve done in your career, right?
BM: Absolutely, so I agree with that perspective. Looking back on that line of lineal champions stretching back to John L. Sullivan who would you say you admire the most?
TF: Oh, there have been a lot of great guys going back in time. A lot of great lineal heavyweight champions from beginning to end, from Sullivan to Fury to everyone else in between. Being the lineal champion in your era means you’re a great fighter - you beat the guy who was the guy who beat the guy going back all those times and all those years back through boxing history. Sometimes it gets a little bit overwhelming, I could just cry to think my name is down in history with those guys.
BM: How long do you think you’ll be in the boxing game for?
TF: I don’t really put a timescale on my life and career. I just take one day at a time and see what comes, you know, We don’t really know what’s gonna happen tomorrow so we’ve got to live today as if it’s our last day. That’s what God tells us to do so that’s what I do.
BM: Your comeback from all the issues you faced has inspired so many people. How does it make you feel that your message that anyone can conquer their demons or come back from the brink has captured the imagination of the boxing world and the wider public?
TF: It feels absolutely great. If people can learn from other people’s mistakes then I’m all for that. I’m not shy about putting my downfalls out there for every one to see so people can learn how not to do it. I think it’s fantastic that people have taken to that and used it as inspiration and motivation.
BM: Final question. When people tune in next week to watch you versus Otto Wallin what can we expect to see?
TF: Ballet dancing maybe. Or a game of pool.
BM: A pleasure to talk to you, Tyson. You maintained the accent very well.
TF: Fantastic, the pleasure was all mine. I’ll catch you on the other side Luke Williams and Boxing Monthly.