Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder III: WBC heavyweight boxing championship – live! – The Guardian
Even if Fury is battered out of the park on Saturday night and never fights again, that he’s even in this position is a testament to an astonishing return from rock bottom, when he ballooned to nearly 25st and contemplated taking his own life during a 31-month layoff.
“It was internally, externally and spiritually: a combination of the three,” Fury says of his comeback from the abyss. “To go from the weight I was at, where I was at in my life, being 400lb, couldn’t sleep with the light off, scared to death of everything, anxiety killing me. I’ve come a long, long, long way. My anxiety was terrible. I believe anxiety is one of the worst things that anybody could have. It’s the fear of the unknown. It’s crazy.”
In the three years since Fury repurposed his first fight with Wilder into a platform to discuss his struggles with mental health, a subject once regarded as one of the last taboos in elite sport has since been thrust to the fore, most notably in the public ordeals of Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles this year. It’s a long-overdue conversation that Fury hasn’t necessarily gotten the proper credit for starting.
Osaka, who last month hinted at an extended break from tennis after her early exit from the US Open, has spoken about the ways her battles with anxiety can be directly traced back to her star-making win over Serena Williams for her first major title. Her recent admission that winning no longer gives her happiness resonates deeply with Fury, who experienced the same feelings of existential ennui in the aftermath of his own life-changing triumph in Düsseldorf six years ago, when he ended Wladimir Klitschko’s decade-long championship reign and won the WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles he would later surrender without throwing a punch.
“Winning doesn’t mean anything,” Fury says. “It’s terrible. And I did retire. I was out for three years. I was as low as any man could ever go, to be fair. Right on the edge of death and life. What advice would I give for young athletes coming through – the best advice I could give anybody – is get the right help straight away. I never seeked help for my mental struggle until 2016. I didn’t know what was going on. I wasn’t experienced. Nobody knew around me what was going on. Very uneducated on the matter. And as soon as I got help, the sooner I could go back to get recovered.”
He continues: “One of the best things I ever did was come out and speak about it, because with communication you can get over any hurdle. But keeping it all to yourself and not communicating with others, you’re a bottle of champagne being shaken and shaken, waiting for the top to explode. And you’ll have a mental breakdown and won’t recover – or you seek help and try and get better.”