Eclectic Blue

Fists of Fury

Comments Off on Fists of Fury 10 June 2018

I set aside my increasing dislike of boxing to watch Tyson Fury’s comeback fight against a 39 year old Albanian cruiserweight of whom no one had ever heard. Coming across brain injury in my professional life and watching a ‘sport’ where the entire aim is to render the opponent unconscious (it is: don’t try to pretend otherwise) has become a circle that for me cannot be squared. Still, last night I was drawn in and it was repulsive.

Fury is a beast of a man. 6’9″ and nearly 20 stone, quite a few stone of which were clearly not muscle. He was fighting – and I use the word inadvisedly – a man who appeared to be a foot shorter and five stone lighter. It was more a catchweight contest than a heavyweight. Fury’s flabby body wobbled around the ring, trying to lay a blow on an opponent whose aim was to survive a few rounds and to escape largely unscathed. After a ludicrous couple of rounds, the Albanian’s corner refused to send him out again. Fury had won, but won what?

There was no title at stake. It was Fury’s comeback after nearly three years away from the ring, during which period he had dabbled with drugs and suffered from mental illness. His promoter Frank Warren chose an elderly journeyman fighter to Fury to beat and many thousands turned up to watch it. It was a masterclass in polishing a turd. What we had was a circus, not a boxing match.

The crowd, the usual mix of well-dressed thirty-something men, had either paid for their tickets in order to see a real fight, in which case they were incredibly gullible, or they knew precisely what would happen and didn’t care. Who, other than someone who knew nothing about boxing, could possibly have imagined this was a real contest? In fact, a brawl broke out in the crowd during the fight and Fury spent as much time watching that as he did hitting his opponent. There was certainly more action out of the ring than there was in it.

When the inevitable stoppage occurred and Fury’s flabby arm was raised to denote his victory, the interviews began. It was then I felt there was something very wrong going on.

If Fury has recovered from his mental health demons, then I wonder what I was watching last night. His strange gurning, his erratic behaviour, his largely incoherent ramblings were not those of a man in charge of his full faculties. I do not pretend to have any great ability to diagnose mental illness but Fury did not have the air of a man who was well. He was a big, fat cartoon character who may as well have entered the ring in an exploding car which the doors falling off, dressed up in clown make up. I found the whole thing utterly disturbing.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why we allow someone who has suffered from mental illness to involve himself in a sport where the head is almost always the main target. If you held a brain in your hands, it would seep between your fingers, so delicate is it. Granted, Fury did not suffer any significant blows to the head but I am now at the stage where I think about that precious brain swirling around inside the skull every time a fighter gets hit on the head.

I wish I hadn’t watched it now. I was little more than a filthy voyeur, intruding in someone else’s very public grief. I cannot get over the image of Fury lurching around like a comedy Frankenstein monster after a man who looked half his size. Happily, nobody died last night. The main victim was boxing itself which suffered a significant blow to its already dwindling credibility. in the grand scheme of things, that’s not bad news.

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