LAS VEGAS – Responsibility and acceptance.
If Tyson Fury understands one thing, it’s that being responsible is the first of many steps when it comes to dealing with mental health. For someone who has been open about their own struggles with mental health and has become an advocate for those who suffer from it, Fury can recognize the signs even when the person facing them has yet to recognize them.
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Fury walked away from boxing for three years to deal with depression, addiction, and bipolar disorder before making an astonishing return to the ring, leading to him becoming the WBC heavyweight champion and preparing for his first defense of the title in the third fight with Deontay Wilder. October 9th. But to move on with his life, he first had to accept that there was a problem to begin with and be responsible for his self-destructive behavior that nearly derailed not only his boxing career but his life as well.
What Fury has seen of Deontay Wilder in the last 20 months is something he is quite familiar with.
After his dominant seven-round destruction of Wilder last February, all Fury heard was his opponent offering excuses as to why he couldn’t defeat “The Gypsy King.” Whether it’s an oversized suit or a coach plotting against him, Wilder refused to acknowledge that the best man beat him on that fateful February 2020 night in Las Vegas. He didn’t want to accept that it was something he did that made him lose. And through those words, Fury discovers that his opponent may be dealing with more than just trying to get over the first loss of his boxing career.
MORE: All of Wilder’s Excuses for Losing to Fury
“He has not been responsible for his actions or his words,” Fury tells Sporting News as he walks through the halls of the T-Mobile Arena following the “Great Arrivals” of both fighters. Moments earlier, Wilder appeared in front of a crowd and reiterated his allegations that Fury may have cheated to win. It’s something Fury has come to realize, and despite having to repeatedly punch his opponent on Saturday night, he sees that these excuses could be a cry for help that no one on his team is listening to.
“People are still waiting for them to address all these accusations for which they have not been held responsible. I think he is suffering mentally. But one thing I will tell you is that with the right help, you can always come back because I came back with problems with mental health and I’m sure Deontay Wilder can do it too, but if you don’t come up and tell people what’s going on, you can never get help.
“First you have to accept and then you can recover.”
After defeating Wladimir Klitschko to become the unified heavyweight champion in November 2015, Fury should have been at the peak of his career. But because he was suffering with what he calls a “silent killer,” he was unable to enjoy the prime of his boxing career. Accomplishing what he spent his entire life trying to achieve sounded hollow.
Instead of happiness, he found emptiness. He found no meaning in his achievements. Suicidal thoughts often crossed her mind as each day she found it more difficult to get out of bed. He turned to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. His weight skyrocketed to over 400 pounds and he was deemed medically unsuitable for boxing. He lost his boxing license due to failed drug tests and was hospitalized after a panic attack that led to his diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Self-medication was an excuse. He was destroying not only his life, but also the lives of his wife and three children who loved him but who were witnessing his descent into self-destruction. He needed help if he ever wanted to fight again. He acknowledged and accepted this and recognized that he had to make a change.
“I suffered from mental health problems all my life and I didn’t know anything about it, where to go for help, not even where to start to fix it,” he explains. “And one day I realized that I had gone too far. I came to my senses and knew I needed help. To be honest, I didn’t think it would be for me at first, but it turned out that it really did help me.”
Fury says his new coping mechanism for depression and bipolar disorder is to keep busy with activities to keep his mind from wandering. And if a depressive episode starts to take shape, you acknowledge it and find healthy ways to manage your mental state. But he believes Wilder is unable to accept that his loss to Fury last February was his doing and has led him to a dark place where his unwillingness to accept responsibility has created a fracture in his psyche that needs to be addressed.
Wilder was not reluctant to make excuses after the loss which saw him suggest that Fury loaded his gloves because he couldn’t possibly have hit him that hard on his own. Instead, he chose to make changes within his camp and came to think that his own team was seeking his disappearance. He fired his coach, Mark Breland, for throwing in the towel during the one-sided beating and went so far as to suggest that Breland was part of a conspiracy to make Wilder lose his world title. In his place is Malik Scott, who Fury thinks is “crap” as a coach and thinks he’s only there to have another conformist on his team.
MORE: Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 3 fight date, start time, card, pay-per-view price and odds for the heavyweight title trilogy
“He has a lot of men who do surround him and just tell him what he wants to hear,” he says. “And of those who tell him the truth, he gets rid of. I’m not sure how you can move on in your life without someone telling you what it’s like. If you look around, I have a family that isn’t afraid to tell me if I’m doing something wrong. That’s what has helped me the most. “
You get a feeling that Fury really feels for his opponent, but he can’t let his guard down until after the two of them collide for the last time. You need to show your bravery and explain in a million different ways how you will tear Wilder apart. It is a fight after all and Fury acknowledges that this is the most dangerous fight of his career due to a focused opponent seeking revenge. But all is fair in love and war and Fury has no qualms about ending this feud with another dominating performance.
And then if Wilder wants to accept that his loss is no one’s fault but his own, maybe Fury will reach out to Wilder and offer him a helping hand. Until then, the only hands Fury will offer are those that are aimed at his opponent.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.