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Tyson Fury is thuggish, boorish and entitled. His head-butting dad is ringmaster of a carnival of horrors. But, I still want him to win


Tyson Fury has the chance to become the undisputed, greatest heavyweight of his generation when he takes on Oleksandr Usyk this weekend.

He has already proven himself to be a brilliant boxer. Someone who lifted the heavyweight division, scattered the belts and gave everyone an opportunity when he beat Wladimir Klitschko.

But a lot of the time he’s not the easiest to like, despite the apparent popularity of Netflix’s At Home With The Furys. That doesn’t mean you can’t compartmentalise it though. I can separate Fury’s behaviour from his ability – as an athlete he’s fantastic, as a statesman in sport not so much.

Let’s get it right though when dissecting his conduct and behaviour and that of those he surrounds himself – this is heavyweight boxing not ballroom dancing.

Has it not always been thus – have we not at times always seen unpalatable behaviour in boxing? We had Mike Tyson wanting to eat Lennox Lewis’ babies, fighting in the streets, effing and jeffing and pillaging his way through society and telling other fighters he was going to murder them. Even the greatest Muhammad Ali called Joe Frazier an Uncle Tom and went on TV shows in the 1970s telling the world the white man was the devil. We had Don King as the world’s leading promoter at one stage and he’d been convicted of manslaughter and fraud. And now we’ve got Fury and his antics and beliefs. That’s just a tiny snapshot of some of the protagonists in ironically what I consider to be the most noble of sports.

Tyson Fury is not the easiest to like but I can separate the Gypsy King's behaviour from his ability

Tyson Fury is not the easiest to like but I can separate the Gypsy King’s behaviour from his ability

Fury's Dad, John, head-butted a member of the Usyk camp during an altercation in fight week

Fury’s Dad, John, head-butted a member of the Usyk camp during an altercation in fight week

Fury senior is like some demented, super-size-me version of a cross between American showman P.T. Barnham and Uncle Fester from the Adams Family

Fury senior is like some demented, super-size-me version of a cross between American showman P.T. Barnham and Uncle Fester from the Adams Family

So do we really expect boxing to aim higher? We’re talking about a sport that is beset with drugs cheats right now, including two of its biggest current stars and an industry that is littered with controversy and dominated now by a nation that is investing money in sport to image-launder by putting on the biggest spectacles in the world. So, why are we surprised?

There are no saints here. We have always seen unedifying spectacles. We’re not talking about pillars of society and the Fury family are no exception – they’re not the Samaritans, they’re fighting people with a fighting outlook.

So what is it we’re so outraged and horrified by when it comes to Fury and his family? Do we expect Fury to sit and read Yeats to everyone?

In the build-up to the fight, Fury’s Dad, John, head-butted a member of the Usyk camp, notably the smallest member! It’s ugly and uncouth but boxing is an ugly and uncouth business at times.

People can have their confected outrage about it but this is what the Furys want to create. They want this everyone’s against us mentality and the more the narrative ramps up towards dissatisfaction at Fury’s attitude and the way he seems to operate, the more they double down on it. The fact is they like and thrive in this environment, they like the hostility, aggression, outrage and disapproval.

Fury senior is like some demented, super-size-me version of a cross between American showman P.T. Barnham and Uncle Fester from the Adams Family. He comes into town and it’s roll up, roll up let’s watch the horror show. This is the carnival of horrors with John Fury at the front of it all for some reason.

Again, this is boxing. We’re not dealing with statesmen or diplomats, we’re not asking Henry Kissinger to be part of the boxing contingent. We’re dealing with a certain type of person and a certain type of outlook.

Recently the Fury’s have been challenging to like, but I admire them because of their fortitude in their sport. I certainly don’t expect them to be upstanding statesmen. I don’t hold them to that level. They are what they are. I don’t sit there with this confected disgust and revulsion at the ridiculousness of their antics, I’m just disappointed they get so much coverage as a result of it – even if the irony of me doing the same isn’t lost on me.

The heavyweight champion of the world was once the greatest accolade, the pinnacle of sport and ideally you’d like it to represent society and its best values but I’m not convinced it ever has really.

Fury is simply a product of – and indicative of – our society which can be thuggish, boorish, entitled and arrogant. Not to mention often rude, disrespectful, binary, one dimensional and myopic. So while it is disappointing, is it really any surprise the heavyweight champion of the world behaves that way at times?

This is the carnival of horrors with John Fury at the front of it all for some reason

This is the carnival of horrors with John Fury at the front of it all for some reason

I’m no fan of the banality and vulgarity of some of his outbursts, nor of people who can only take praise and not criticism. But again, that’s society.

Somehow substance and standards have been replaced by silly, immature outlooks. Fury assumes a role for the media whilst being surrounded by lickspittles and sycophants who tells him he’s right even when he’s wrong, encouraging anti-social and unpleasant behaviour.

I must add though that we see far less controversy and poor behaviour from boxers than we do from footballers who are seemingly endlessly getting themselves into scraps

But once the circus is packed away and it’s fight night, we’ll see the best version of Fury the boxer.

I think he’ll beat Usyk but there will be a lot of people in this country who would like to see him lose. That is something of a tragedy because whatever he isn’t and whatever he is, Fury is British.

We should be cheering on our champions – it feels perverse not to – but the more people I listen to, the more it appears the nation is not behind this particular champion and perhaps never will be. That is a great shame but no great surprise given the way he and his family sometimes behave. Maybe, given his recent proclamations that he is treated like royalty in Saudi and shouldn’t have to queue up at airports such is his importance, he will end up there one day.

I actually hope the charming, witty and enigmatic Fury I met a while ago re-emerges and inhabits that role with some dignity and style when, as I believe he will, he becomes the undisputed heavyweight Champion of the world.

Stadium progress vital for fans 

I’m a great believer in the value and tradition of things but sentimentality is sometimes a wasted emotion that hold backs progress.

Nottingham Forest’s owner Evangelos Marinakis remains committed to a move away from the City Ground, prompting the inevitable emotional response from fans.

But once you get past the initial, visceral reaction from fans – which is understandable because you can’t claim sport runs on emotion and then deny the emotion that people have towards certain parts of it – the fact is that clubs have to progress. Like everything else, we expect them to evolve and if you cannot evolve within the confines of the footprint of your existing stadium then, unfortunately, a move has to be accepted. It’s the nature of the beast of modern sport.

As long as the club and its values remain the same, then all you’re doing is changing a piece of real estate to put yourself in the best position to make yourself prepared for the next opportunities that come your way.

Building a shiny new all-purpose stadium that gives fans the experience that people have become accustomed to is vital for a club to progress. As long as that progress means progress for the heartbeat of the club, the fans, to watch a better team in a better environment, encapsulating all the values they consider important, then it’s all good.

Nottingham Forest¿s owner Evangelos Marinakis remains committed to a move away from the City Ground

Nottingham Forest’s owner Evangelos Marinakis remains committed to a move away from the City Ground

Once you get past the initial, visceral reaction from fans, the fact is that clubs have to progress

Once you get past the initial, visceral reaction from fans, the fact is that clubs have to progress

Palace deserve proper money for their stars 

Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze have been in great form as Crystal Palace end their season on a high.

And, inevitably, they have been heavily linked with moves away from Selhurst Park.

But just because you’re playing very well for Palace, doesn’t mean that you will play well in an environment where the shirt weighs heavier. Their ability could take them to clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea but the psychological approach of a player, stepping into those clubs is the key component.

I don’t know the make-up of these boys and whether they’re able to step up. What I do know is that what they’re doing at this moment in time is not dissimilar to what they did at the end of last season under Roy Hodgson.

Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze will move on sooner rather than later. Hopefully Palace get the money they want for their best players

Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze will move on sooner rather than later. Hopefully Palace get the money they want for their best players

People seem to have forgotten that and all of a sudden Oliver Glasner is the second coming.

There is an inevitability Olise and Eze will move on sooner rather than later and I just hope Palace get the money they want for their best players. My disappointment in the past was always with those who consider themselves ‘legacy’ clubs, with all the kudos and cache that comes with it, feel like they don’t have to pay clubs like Palace proper money, using their illustrious past and reputation to turn the players’ head.

Ange is walking a dangerous road

Ange Postecoglou was right in a lot of what he said about Tottenham following the defeat at home to Manchester City.

A section of fans clearly had no problem with losing that game, even with the possibility of a Champions League being up for grabs.

You either want a winning culture at the club or you don’t. I just wish managers would say what they mean rather than speak in riddles about ‘foundations’ without backing it up.

Whether Arsenal win the Premier League or not should be irrelevant. It’s what Spurs do that matters and if your only focus is denying Arsenal winning the title the club will never overcome adversity and stand up as a big football club.

Ange Postecoglou was right in some ways but is always dangerous when you start going after fans

Ange Postecoglou was right in some ways but is always dangerous when you start going after fans 

Postecoglou was right in a lot of what he said but his communication style and skills have dropped a little over the last four or five weeks, coinciding with the teams’ performances and poor run of form.

While I’m not against Postecoglou showing his character by speaking out, it is always dangerous when you start going after the fans.

Football is very important to me – important enough to me for me to put £50million in to Crystal Palace – but for some it is their way of life.

It’s a tribal game and while it’s disappointing to think some fans might be happy to see their team lose in order to deny their rivals something they crave, that’s the emotional immaturity of football sometimes.





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