Tyson Fury“I heard a voice in my mind say, ‘Don’t do this. Think about your kids and think about your family.’”

As heard on Today with Miriam

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Tyson Fury is a born fighter. Named for one of the world’s greatest, Mike Tyson, his family’s boxing legacy stretches back 200 years. Tyson told Miriam O’Callaghan that his first great battle set him up for his future career:

“I believe I was born for this. I was born premature and I died three times as a baby.”

Tyson has just brought out an autobiography, Behind the Mask, which traces his development from what he calls a “gym rat” sparring with his boxer father to becoming the Heavyweight Champion of the world. The book also reveals Tyson’s struggles with depression. He told Miriam why he was keen to include that in the book:

“It’s very important to me because I’ve been there and suffered  myself so much and I think it’s very important to spread the word and smash the stigma around mental health so other people won’t be too afraid to come out and speak about it.”

Ironically, achieving one of his all-time goals of beating Vladimir Klitchko in 2015 left him in a deep depression. There came a point in 2016 when Tyson considered taking his own life:

“I put my foot down, flat to the floor and headed towards the bridge. Last moment, I pulled out. I heard a voice in my mind say, ‘Don’t do this. Think about your kids and think about your family.’ I drove past the bridge and pulled over and that was the first time that I knew that I really needed help medically.”

Tyson is now a big cheerleader for mental health services and he says he wishes he had seen a doctor much earlier.  He says there’s no shame in looking for help:

“If I can do it and I’m 6 foot 9 and 18 stone and a World Heavyweight Champion, then anyone can do it. You know, there’s no embarrassment or shame in coming out and saying you’ve got a problem.”

Irish fighters Katie Taylor and Conor McGregor are personal friends and Tyson is full of praise for both:

“I’ve known Katie for a long time, we go back a long time and I think she’s absolutely fantastic. Definitely the fighting pride of Ireland in boxing, that’s for sure.”

Conor McGregor has offered to train Tyson as he’s toying with the idea of a career in a mixed martial arts. The timeline has yet to be laid down, but Tyson is looking forward to it:

“What better trainer would I ever have than The Notorious Conor McGregor?

You can find out more about the  dramatic weight loss Tyson achieved for his comeback and the importance of faith in his life in Miriam O’Callaghan’s full interview here.

Behind the Mask by Tyson Fury is published by Cornerstone.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in Tyson’s conversation with Miriam, you can access links to support organisations at www.rte.ie/support.

Ruth Kennedy

© The Listener 2019

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