Tyson Fury has transcended boxing… he is Britain’s version of Muhammad Ali – The Sun
TYSON FURY slowly but surely has evolved into British boxing’s version of Muhammad Ali because, just like The Greatest, he has transcended the sport.
It might sound a far-fetched analogy but away from the ring there are definite parallels.
Both highly controversial characters, their motor mouths led to repercussions that had detrimental effects on their careers.
As members of ethnic minorities they suffered discrimination. But both antagonised the establishment with contentious beliefs and statements.
The Gypsy King and Ali became hate figures and were considered beyond the pale when it came to polite society.
Ali, as soon as he won the world heavyweight title in 1964, announced he had changed his name from Cassius Clay and had joined the feared Nation of Islam – commonly known as the Black Muslims.
That hardly endeared him to white America. What really incensed the Rednecks was when he refused to be drafted into the army at the height of the Vietnam war.
His witheringly famous remark: “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong” hurtled round the globe and he was accused of treason.
He was also stripped of his title and spent the next three years in exile bravely fighting against racism and for civil rights in the US.
Fury’s troubles began because of his outrageously provocative outbursts about homosexuality, abortion, sexism, paedophilia, Zionism and many other topics.
One of his printable comments was: “A woman’s place is in the kitchen or on her back.”
The hostility he provoked led to 120,000 people signing a petition four years ago demanding Fury be barred from appearing at the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year show.
On top of it all he was battling severe mental depression, which left him suicidal, as well as a two-year boxing ban after he had tested positive for a banned substance.
To make matters even worse, while he was being ostracised his booze and cocaine use was running riot and his weight ballooned to almost 30 stone.
Hans Christian Andersen couldn’t possibly have written a comeback fairytale with a happy ending for Tyson after all the trauma he had experienced.
Just like Ali had done nearly 50 years before, Fury not only returned to combat but, last Saturday, with a breathtaking mixture of brilliance and belligerence, he destroyed Deontay Wilder to reign again as heavyweight champion of the world.
Just like Ali, his uninhibited skills coupled with his humorous banter and magnetic charisma have completely won over the public, who have forgiven his past misdemeanours and he has them eating out of his shovel-like hands.
Just like Ali, he has turned loathing into love and by the sheer force of his personality is now an international icon.
If proof is needed, within hours of beating Wilder and taking his WBC belt, President Trump invited him to the White House and the Pope has asked him to visit the Vatican.
If the Queen wants to have a fun time and forget her family troubles for a couple of hours, I humbly suggest she has Tyson to lunch at Buckingham Palace.
Fury has now replaced Lennox Lewis as Britain’s all-time No 1 heavyweight. So it was fitting for Lewis – along with two other great champions, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson – to be at the Las Vegas ringside to see him claim his place in boxing’s folklore.
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