When an athlete calls time on their career, it’s often done through a personal, heartfelt statement or press conference where they talk about their achievements, their love of the sport, and all the good things it’s given to them. There is emotion and sentiment and nostalgia. And if you’ve been any good (or if you’ve been a darling of the press) then people will come out and write nice things about you.
When a great athlete retires, we all spend a weekend talking about their glory days – their biggest moments, greatest achievements. And generally, we all seem amazed at how long ago it was they started out (and how young we were, and how old we are now). We all get caught up in it.
Not Tyson Fury. When Tyson Fury retired this week, he invited the world to go “suck a d*ck”. His words, not mine.
The current WBO, WBA and IBO heavyweight champion, recently pulled out of his re-match with Wladimir Klitschko. He had been declared mentally unfit, and then rumours broke that he had tested positive for cocaine.
Fury’s response on social media was swift. He posted that picture of Tony Montana (from the film Scarface). We all know the one, but in case you don’t, allow me to enlighten you. It’s the image of Tony slouched on an ornate leather chair, eyes wide and completely out of his skull, in front of a desk collapsing under an Everest-sized mountain of coke.
Tyson had photoshopped his face, mouth askew as he licks his lips, over Al Pacino’s. I have to say, it is pretty funny.
But on a more serious note, you have to worry about the guy’s mental state. And acknowledge that a boxing career involves getting in the ring with muscle-bound killing machines, with fists that can knock down load-bearing walls, who are trained (and trying damn hard) to smash your head in. No matter how good you are, you’re gonna eat a few haymakers in that business. Some are gonna get through.
It’s a terrible piece of PR for boxing, a sport that is almost dying on its feet. The sweet science lacks superstars, has bloated divisions, too many belts and commissions, and is now under threat from the UFC.
Fury v Klitschko was a big attraction for a sport short on big attractions. Now that’s over (for the time being at least), the sport’s priority should be to protect Fury. From the media, from himself.