Tyson Fury is not everyone’s cup of tea. That is very clear, and a polite way of stating the obvious – a lot of people in this country seem to hate the heavyweight champion of the world’s guts.
Whatever Fury does seems to incur a torrent of vitriol from the British public, some he provokes on purpose, some he does not. But whether he is looking for a reaction or not, is this unstoppable wave of criticism fair?
Some of it, yes, definitely. Some of what the 28-year-old has said on a range of topics was always going to offend people and he has rightly been castigated for it.
Fury has expressed sexist and homophobic views on a semi-regular basis over the last few years. He ‘believes a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back.’
These are not acceptable views in Britain 2016, but there is at least some form of explanation for them.
Fury is not a well-educated man. He is also a devout Christian who interpretes the Bible’s teachings as they are written. With that pairing, it is not entirely surprising he has out-dated and offensive views on women and gay people.
This is a partial explanation for these wrongdoings, not an excuse. There is no excuse for it. But it has happened and he has apologised.
But what else has he been criticised for? Pulling out of his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko because of mental health issues.
That’s right, he is medically unfit to compete, because of problems with his mental health and people are having a go at him for it. These people are equally guilty of harbouring out-dated views.
Getting in a boxing ring against world-class opposition is an extremely dangerous thing to do. You wouldn’t do it with a broken hand, you wouldn’t do it with flu and you shouldn’t do it if you are struggling mentally, there is no difference.
It is also something that too regularly goes untreated, something that it appears Fury has thankfully avoided.
Those who are dismissing his mental health problems as a façade because he is ‘a bum’ or scared of Klitschko know nothing of a professional fighter’s attitude, much less one that is champion of the world.
Fury also takes a lot of flak for his social media outbursts which seem to confuse, enrage and entertain people in unequal measures – far more are enraged than anything else.
But what has he really done wrong on his Twitter feed?
He is accused of taking cocaine so he mocks up a picture of himself as Tony Montana from Scarface behind a table full of the stuff.
Arrogant? Maybe. Funny? I think so. Offensive? Surely not.
Then he announces his retirement – not for the first time. Journalists around the world quickly knock up articles on the sad demise of his career. Three hours later he is active again and actively taking the mick out of the ‘Medea’.
Some who are quick to knock Fury should ponder what they would do with the power he has on social media.
He can have thousands of words written about him thanks to a 140 character tweet only to retract it 180 minutes later, causing thousands more to be written.
For a man who enjoys a practical joke, this is a great game and one that plenty of others wish they could play.
If everyone could stop rushing to be offended by everything the man does, they might actually find it entertaining.
What people have to remember is that Fury online is also him playing up to a persona, there to create interest in him and his fights. His Twitter bio currently reads: ‘BADDEST MAN ON THE PLANET,#GYPSYWARRIOR.‘
To most in the boxing world that have met the giant from Manchester, he is a gentleman. Although biased, his uncle and trainer Peter said of his nephew:
‘He is the most genuine guy on the planet, a genuinely nice man.’
Tyson knows he has to play the game to get attention.
He doesn’t have the clean-cut image and Olympic success of Anthony Joshua to propel him to superstardom.
He also has an awkward style which is not going to naturally draw in the punters despite his obvious talent.
Winding people up is an effective way of earning attention and, in turn, millions of pounds.
It does have to be remembered that is wasn’t outrageous tweets or dressing up as batman that won Fury his heavyweight world title belts – it was one of the best performances by a British boxer in recent memory. If you cannot look past all of Tyson’s flaws, then at least appreciate him for his skill in the ring which he showed off so brilliantly against Klitschko last year.
I am a Tyson Fury apologist. I spend an annoying amount of my spare time defending him against his haters. That is not to say I agree with everything he says – I don’t. That is not to say I can’t see why people would find him annoying and offensive – I can.
But not everything he does is wrong, in fact, some things he does are right, some are funny, some are impressive, some are just entertaining.