Thursday, January 20

Tyson Fury: ‘Anxiety is one of the worst things anyone could have’ | Tyson’s Fury


IIt’s all smiles in locker room four in the bowels of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where Tyson Fury is just days away from defending his WBC heavyweight title against Deontay Wilder. It’s a scene that would have been unthinkable a few years ago, when Fury’s career appeared after he left the sport for more than two years amid public battles with addictions and mental illness.

“I’m not very confident,” says Fury. “I’m not going to go in thinking that I’m just going to knock this guy unconscious. I have prepared a lot, I have prepared well. No injuries. So I’m giving Wilder the respect he needs and deserves for this fight. “

The Gypsy King is one of the favorites in Saturday’s big heavyweight showdown by merit. When they first crossed paths in December 2018 for Wilder’s then-WBC title, Fury spent most of the night pounding the hard-boiled ears with erratic feints and deft upper-body movements that belied his imposing. 6 foot 9 inch figure. Even after suffering knockdowns in the ninth and twelfth rounds, the latter of which left him seemingly unconscious on the descent, Fury got off the court each time and finished the round getting the best of the exchanges before settling for a split draw. .

Fifteen months later, Fury delivered the definitive result that their first encounter failed to produce with a masterclass in direct violence, knocking Wilder down in the third and fifth rounds before pouring out punishment until the champion’s corner threw in the towel in the seventh. .

Interestingly, Saturday’s third installment, which is only the fifth trilogy between heavyweight champions in boxing history after Patterson-Johansson, Ali-Frazier, Ali-Norton and Bowe-Holyfield, will mark the first time the player from 33 years from Manchester. He defended an actual belt despite claiming the lineal title (that is, being the man who hit the man who hit the man) dating back almost six years. Not that that detail even occurred to the Gypsy King.

“Like I said early in my career, I wasn’t interested in being the longest reigning champion on most defenses,” he says. “I am not interested in such things at all. History means nothing to me. I don’t care what happens in the story, what people will say about me and all that. How will you be remembered? Never mind. Because I’ll be dead. “

Even if Fury is kicked out of the park on Saturday night and never fights again, that he’s even in this position is a testament to an astonishing comeback from the bottom, when he shot nearly 25 and contemplated taking his own life for a 31- month off.

“It was internally, externally and spiritually – a combination of all three,” says Fury of his return from the abyss. “Going from the weight that I had, where I was in my life, weighing 400 pounds, I couldn’t sleep with the light off, scared to death of everything, the anxiety was killing me. I’ve come a long, long, long way. My anxiety was terrible. I think anxiety is one of the worst things anyone can have. It is the fear of the unknown. It’s crazy. “

In the three years since Fury repurposed his first fight with Wilder on a platform to discuss his struggles with mental health, a topic that was once considered one of the last taboos in elite sport has come to the fore, on all in public tests. by Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles this year. It’s a long-awaited conversation that Fury hasn’t necessarily received adequate credit for starting.

Tyson Fury brings the fight to Deontay Wilder in their second meeting in Las Vegas in February 2020
Tyson Fury takes the fight to Deontay Wilder in their second meeting, in Las Vegas in February 2020. Fury won in the seventh round to clinch the WBC heavyweight title.
Photograph: Usa Today Uspw / USA Today Sports

Osaka, who last month hinted at an extended hiatus from tennis after her early exit from the US Open, has spoken about the ways her battles with anxiety can be traced directly to her star win over Serena Williams for her first major title. His recent admission that winning no longer brings him happiness resonates deeply with Fury, who experienced the same feelings of existential boredom after his own life-changing triumph in Düsseldorf six years ago, when he ended the decade-long reign of Wladimir Klitschko. and won the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles that he would later surrender without throwing a punch.

“Winning doesn’t mean anything,” says Fury. “It’s terrible. And I retired. I was out for three years. I was as low as any man could go, to be fair. Right on the brink of death and life. What advice would you give to young athletes who are getting ahead? “The best advice I could give anyone is to seek the right help immediately. I never sought help for my mental struggle until 2016. I didn’t know what was going on. I had no experience. No one around me knew what was going on. Very uneducated about it. And as soon as I got help, sooner I could go back to recover. “

He continues: “One of the best things I did was go out and talk about it, because with communication you can overcome any obstacle. But keeping it all to yourself and not communicating with others, you are a shaken and shaken bottle of champagne, waiting for the cap to explode. And he will have a mental breakdown and he will not recover, or he will seek help and try to improve. “

For Fury, that meant seeing a local psychologist where he lived in Lancaster, who helped him make sense of the extreme mood swings that dominated his psyche. Staying well is a difficult thing to do and not many people have been able to do it for long periods of time. Bringing those demons under control has allowed Fury to regain control of his life and plan a return to the top of his sport that seemed impossible just a few years ago, guided by the hard-won wisdom that with depression there are no victories. end.

Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder denied pre-fight showdown after war of words - video
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder denied pre-fight showdown after war of words – video

“I have a lot of experience with all of this and I know what to do when I get into those low moments,” says Fury. “I know it will happen. But before, when you don’t know what to do and have never experienced getting over it properly, it’s hard. Now I have a mechanism of: I train every day and that keeps depression at bay, the black dog, as Winston Churchill used to call it, keeping it at bay.

“It is not something you can beat. You can never, never, never win the battle of mental health because that black dog will always return to your life at some point. And it’s not if, it’s when. “

For now, Fury’s attention is squarely on the business at hand: closing the book on Wilder and ultimately unifying the long-fractured heavyweight championship for the first time in more than two decades. “Wilder could make all the improvements he wants,” he says. “I just don’t think he can beat me. I think he can beat a lot of other people, but I don’t think he can beat me. And if he thought he could beat me, he would be in the wrong job. “

In the UK and Ireland, . In the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the Lifeline crisis support service is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.


www.theguardian.com

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