It is very rare that a specific sporting event crosses over to something that defines life as well as the chosen sport, but that’s exactly what happened at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Like many other sporting figures, there is a touch of Marmite about Tyson Fury – people love him or loathe him.
The 6ft 9in ‘Gypsy King’ has in 30 years had a rollercoaster life that would more at home on a cinema screen than a boxing ring.
Born two months premature and weighing only 1lb, he was clearly a fighter from day one. After taking up the noble art at 14, he turned professional and put together an impressive run of wins, culminating in November 2015, when he went to Germany and beat Wladimir Klitschko, the man who had been undefeated as world heavyweight champion for 11 years.
After having to pull out of the rematch through injury, Fury didn’t fight for another two years. He admitted bingeing on alcohol and cocaine – and he has also spoken of a battle with mental health that dwarfed any contest he had previously fought in the squared circle.
Fury has stated at his lowest point he was close to suicide. But he went and got help for his mental health issues, kicked drink and drugs, and with the help of his faith, he returned to boxing.
After two warm-up fights in the summer, he returned on Saturday night to fight world champion Deontay Wilder in LA.
What followed was 12 thrilling rounds of boxing, Fury out-boxed Wilder, but it was the American who floored his opponent twice, in ninth and 12th rounds.
The contest ended in a draw and many said Fury had clearly won, but he had no complaints, instead referring to what he believed was his greatest victory of the night.
He said if he can come back from the brink of suicide, exorcise his demons and get to where he got on Saturday, it shows anyone in any walk of life experiencing those horrendous issues can come back, with the right help.
That’s why this wasn’t just about boxing, it surpassed sport and went to an even higher level.
With mental health rightly being addressed more than ever before, what a shining example Fury is to this country.
Hopefully, the people in Whitehall who hand out honours might take that into account when the next lot are being handed out.
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