Coming Back From The Brink: Mental Health In Boxing

I prayed for death on a daily basis- Tyson Fury

**Trigger Warning**

 

Picture this. Boxing, a sport at the pinnacle of masculinity and one of extreme physical and mental toughness. One where a fighter tries to show no weakness nor give an inch to their opponent.

Just last weekend, British fighter Tyson Fury returned to the ring for his major fight in three years. Fury’s problems have been well documented, particularly his struggle with depression. Refusing to shy away from the topic, Fury has been very open about his battle.

While his image has previously been clouded by some extremely divisive comments, it seems his openness has enabled him to rejuvenate his public image, change perceptions and raise much needed awareness around mental health. It’s not often men of such stature and ‘toughness’ talk about their emotions and show any vulnerability, yet Fury has smashed all stereotypes and it’s so refreshing to see. Many people, including myself, have found much strength and inspiration in his battle.

After a famous win against Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 to capture the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles and then suffering a long lay-off, it was questioned whether the Mancunian would ever return to fight again. However he has well and truly defied the odds.

Having fulfilled his lifelong dream of winning a world title, Fury has said he felt no subsequent sense of purpose or motivation, and so he started to spiral out of control. He fell into a deep depression and addiction, looking for a release in alcohol, drugs and even strip clubs. After receiving a drugs ban and suffering with regular suicidal thoughts, Fury came very close to driving his Ferrari off a bridge at close to 200mph and ending his life.

Physical health problems are hard to recover from, however it is said mental scars take longer to heal. In the space of just 12 months, Fury had shed an astonishing 10 stone and beat his mental demons to secure a fight with fearsome unbeaten American knockout artist Deontay Wilder.

While he was denied the fairytale win after a controversial draw in Los Angeles, one which most thought he won, even coming back to fight for Boxing’s biggest prize in the first place is nothing short of remarkable. A story so unheard of it wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood film!

As a boxing fan and someone who suffers with mental health problems myself, I can’t help but marvel at his incredible fight and determination in beating his demons and returning to such a tough and unforgiving sport. And especially a sport that shows absolutely no sympathy. A sport that is so unforgiving.

For all he has done, I want to thank Tyson Fury for proving recovery is possible and providing so many people with hope. I’m also very much looking forward to seeing #WilderFury2 play out in 2019!

(Video Courtesy of BT Sport)

Thanks for reading,

Adam

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