Tyson Fury’s triumph is no excuse – he needs to offer a proper apology for his homophobic and sexist remarks

Chris Stevenson
Fury dismantled Wilder to recapture the heavyweight crown: AFP

There was little doubt among the pundits that Tyson Fury's WBC heavyweight title-winning victory over Deontay Wilder at the weekend was one of the best British boxing performances in years.

Having faced mental health issues and problems with alcohol and drugs, the result was held up as a redemption tale to match any in the national canon. The self-styled "Gypsy King" is role model for the traveller community, helping demystify a culture that has been subjected to huge amounts of prejudice. He has also been rightly praised for his openness about the struggles he has had to confront within his own mind - a national conversation is the only way to bring the issue truly into the light.

But if Fury is to live-up to his role model-status, and given he now has one of the biggest platforms in global sport, he must speak out against his own homophobic and misogynistic comments from the past.

There are caveats that people will bring up, how they link to his own religious beliefs, how they show a time when Fury was struggling. However, if there is not going to be a large asterisk against the boxer and his achievements, Fury needs to make clear to the world - as the hero he wants to be seen as - that he disavows his previous utterances and stands with other communities that themselves are still facing prejudice.

The remarks date back a few years, but they have included a 2013 interview in which Fury said that he would "hang" his sister if she was promiscuous, a 2015 interview where Fury stated his belief that homosexuality should be outlawed and conflated it with pedophilia. He said that the two things, and abortion, should all be outlawed. In 2016, in an interview with video outlet SportsView London, he made antisemetic comments about Jewish influence and called transgender people "freaks of nature". In another remark about women he said: “I believe a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back. That’s my personal belief. Making me a good cup of tea, that’s what I believe.”

Fury has offered apologies for his remarks, saying some relate to his reading of scripture. While in 2016, after the SportsView interview he said: "I said some things which may have hurt some people, which as a Christian man is not something I would ever want to do. Though it is not an excuse, sometimes the heightened media scrutiny has caused me to act out in public."

At the end of that statement, he promised to "hold myself up to the highest possible standard". Well, now would be the time to do so.

Many will pillorise me for bringing up history, saying that Fury has moved on. While I don't doubt the Fury's capacity to grow, he is no longer an outsider bemoaning the level of media scrutiny placed upon his actions. He is now at the centre of the British boxing world, if not the global scene.

Fury has his own beliefs, but all boxing fans deserve to know they are welcomed by one of the biggest representatives of the sport, that they do not have to be uneasy about following one of the best proponents of the craft they love. Fury does not have to be re-tried in public for the mistakes of his past, but something from the man himself, knowing the part he now plays, would be welcome. The extra effort would be minimal, and the likely positive impact on an often prejudiced industry would repay that effort ten-fold.

Sports stars often talk about having the role of being an example to others thrust upon them. Fury has been living that role for the traveller community for years. Given the world-wide platform he now occupies, it is an opportune time to show he means what he has said about holding himself accountable.

Read more

Fury’s father explains why Joshua will retire before facing son

Fury promises more knockouts – despite father’s plea to retire

Hearn explains why Fury vs Joshua will happen

Bruno explains why Fury is an ‘inspiration’ after stunning Wilder win