Tyson Fury, the heavyweight World Boxing Champion stopped at the Sands Centre in Carlisle over the weekend on the first leg of his Fury Fest After Party victory tour across the UK. Carlisle Eden Mind was invited backstage before the event.
“Every time I tried to speak to someone that I knew, no one was having it. They were like ‘Oh… he’s an attention seeker…He’s got everything and he’s still not happy?’ -That’s one of the worst things you can say to a person. Or ‘Man Up, Get over it’.
Typical cliché stuff that you don’t want to hear.“Tyson Fury
The two time Heavyweight World Boxing Champion has had a huge impact on breaking the stigma surrounding mental health ever since he publicly started talking about his own mental health problems.
Carlisle Eden Mind is a not a medical charity, our concern is with people, not illness. While the diagnosis of mental health problems, and possible treatments are important, our primary concern is the impact on the people affected.
Tyson Fury’s personal story with mental health reaches across all types of demographics and by allowing Carlisle Eden Mind an insight into his story we can then help share it with our local audience, and hopefully reach someone who will benefit from it.
Myself and Tracy Gannon from Carlisle United turned up to the event at the Sands Centre a few hours early on Saturday evening for an arranged meeting with Tyson Fury for Carlisle Eden Mind.
As we walked into the back room we could start to hear Tyson’s voice echoing through the corridors, he was joking and laughing with his family, listening to music and preparing for the nights event, almost like a pre-match warm up.
We were introduced to Tyson, who towered above everyone in the room. The first thing that struck us was his size. Tyson Fury has a height of 6ft.9” which is a lot bigger in person than we’d imagined. -We looked small standing next to him.
Tyson signing the wall art for the entrance of the Carlisle Eden Mind office on Spencer Street
I have followed Tyson’s career as a fan and drawn him many times in my illustrations, as seen below, he was even wearing the same suit. We are both the same age believe it or not, and boxed on the same amateur boxing circuit when we were younger. I’ve listened to lots of his interviews over the years where he talks about training and living healthy so I wanted to ask Tyson how he really found the strength to turn his life around when he felt like giving up.
I asked Tyson, “What helped you the most when you found yourself in your worst crisis?” He smiled and pointed up to the ceiling. I then asked, what about when you felt like you had zero motivation to get out of bed or to train, or even do anything?
Tyson stepped forward to engage more in the conversation and again pointed upwards, smiled and said ‘God.’ He then politely said “I know it’s not for everyone, but God helped me when I needed him most. Others will need to find the one thing that helps them.”
“The day that changed my life. I’ll never forget the 31st October 2017. That’s the day I spun it all around and the day I decided I needed help.” –Tyson Fury
During Saturdays Fury Fest, Tyson talked openly about his battle with depression after he won the world title against Wladimir Klitschko on November 28, 2015.
Tyson said that he went from drinking maybe three times a year and never once touching drugs, to living a lifestyle of reckless behaviour which lead him to having constant suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and a feeling that everyone was out to get him. At the time the media seemed to write unnecessary and stigmatising stories about him every week.
In October 2017, Tyson was struggling with his mental health and weighing over 400lbs. He was at a Halloween party, dressed in a skeleton costume, he thought to himself; ‘What am I doing here?’ Tyson left the party and returned home to his family. Tyson’s wife, Paris, was surprised that he had arrived home so early. Tyson went upstairs to his bedroom and remembered what the former boxing champion, George Forman had once said, when he was defeated in a boxing match he found himself in a crisis having a panic attack in the dressing room, thinking he was going to die, he began bargaining to God for help. Tyson thought to himself ‘if it worked for him it could work for me.’
After kneeling and praying for a while, Tyson stood up and felt a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders and could now clearly see his goals and what he needed to achieve. This was to seek medical advice from professional therapists for his mental health, lose the excess weight and regain the world heavyweight boxing title. He also said that nobody around him believed what he was saying because he had played the boy who cried wolf many times before, but they soon realised how serious he was with his intentions.
I said to Tyson that it was really sad a few years ago, to see the media single him out and criticise him because of his faith and how that the unyielding scrutiny from the media would have impacted his mental health.
Tyson responded telling me that he’s not the type of man to judge anyone. If he hears someone talk badly of somebody he doesn’t know, he will wait to meet the person first, before he makes his own assessment and that people can talk badly about him but it wont affect his positive outlook on life and that he has zero room for negativity and nastiness.
When you live with mental health problems, it is a priority to yourself and those around you to reduce the noise from negative sources and surround yourself with people and things that have a positive influence on you.
As Tyson politely stated, not everyone has faith but finding faith can play a major role in the recovery for some people.
Regarding his mental health Tyson also said;
“I went to see these psychologists, I didn’t think it was going to be for me, to go in this room with this bloke and tell him all my problems. Because in my mind I’m thinking, this guy is going to go tell all his pals at the pub later.
This is just how I was thinking, As I didn’t think of the guy was a professional doctor and wouldn’t of done this. Bear in mind, I come from a fighting family, we don’t talk about weakness. Everyone is like a man’s man, everyone’s a fighter. No one was educated on this matter back then, they are today.
So every time I tried to speak to someone that I knew, no one was having it. They were like ‘Oh he’s an attention seeker, he’s got everything and he’s still not happy?’ -That’s one of the worst things you can say to a person, or ‘Man Up’, ‘Get over it’. Typical cliché stuff that you don’t want to hear.
I was speaking to the doctor, and after going a couple of times a week. I started to look forward to going to the therapy sessions and I thought, I’m going to document all of this and I’m going to tell the world my story because, if the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world can be brought off his pedestal to his knees because of mental health, then I’m telling this this to everybody who will listen because if me talking about it helps one person, then it’s worth it.”
Here’s a clip from the Fury Fest event where Tyson Fury gives the audience his top wellbeing tips:
We told Tyson that he is doing an amazing job breaking down the stigma associated with Mental Health, and that his emotional literacy allows many people, young men especially to articulate their own emotions. And that it can be seen on a local level in Cumbria. The Carlisle Eden Mind social media analytics have shown that anytime we share Tyson Fury mental health content, we get our highest engagements, which means on local organic level, people relate with his message. Not one to blush, Tyson deflected the compliment and jokingly said, “How do you think I sold 96,000 tickets at Wembley stadium, people love The Gyspy King!”.
The Fury Fest tour across the UK is an in depth celebration of Tyson Fury’s boxing career and his battles with mental health. Tyson is an expert by experience.
He reflects over his career defining fights and his retirement plans. And a lot like his boxing legacy, there is never a dull moment.