Tyson Fury – inspirational mental health activist or homophobic sexist?

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

On June 10th, an official announcement was made that British, and the world’s, boxing fans have eagerly anticipated for years. A two-fight deal was agreed between the two giants of British boxing, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. This conflict not only brings together two great boxers but also two highly public figures, both respected for activism; Anthony Joshua fighting back against racism, speaking powerfully at the BLM protest in his hometown of Watford, and Tyson Fury inspired many with his comeback from the jaws of depression and suicidal thoughts to lose over 140lb and regain the heavyweight world championship.

However, this image of Fury as a role model and press favourite would not have been predicted by many earlier in his career.

When Fury first rose to prominence in the Boxing world, he had a loyal set of supporters but also a heavy number of critics, not for his boxing but for his world views that were inconsistent with 21st century political correctness. Fury’s controversial quotes ranged from misogyny- “a women’s best place is in the kitchen or on her back.” To homophobia, likening Homosexuality to paedophilia and bestiality as well as using the common antisemitic stereotypes of “Jewish people who own all the banks, all the papers and all the TV stations.”

Fury apologised for the offence caused by his comments and claimed media scrutiny plays a role in his ‘acting out’. However, this wasn’t viewed as enough for many as it seemed he was only apologising to save face, and had been forced to do so previously, this repeated trend of controversial statement followed by apology for any offence caused is what leads many to view Tyson apologies as insincere

In the age of cancel culture, it is perhaps surprising Fury survived the backlash and has become a hero figure and in his managers words ‘the peoples champion’.

For a superstar in a highly macho, testosterone filled sport, Fury speaking openly about his struggles with mental health and suicidal thoughts, the biggest killer of men under 50, is rightly praised and heralded.

Does this mean his previous wrongdoings should be forgotten? No. But can these two sides of Tyson’s image coexist, can society respect certain aspects of somebody’s character while ignoring others. Furthermore, can character and beliefs be ignored completely in respect to sporting triumph?

And if not, would Tyson Fury’s metaphorical statue be removed?

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