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The Rise & Fall of Tyson Fury


By: Thomas Nicholls

Tyson Fury has once again announced his retirement, but only this time I feel it is for good.

Tyson, is quick to remind the world and rightly so about his status as the “lineal” heavyweight champion, the holder of the Ring Magazine belt which is by far the most desired and prestigious amongst the world’s fighters. Since his crowning night against WladimirKlitschko in November 2015, before his impressive rendition of Aerosmith, he spoke of how he’d love to be half the champion that Klitschko was – it becomes more apparent with each passing saga, unfortunately that will never be the case.

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Before that night in Dusseldorf, where let’s not forget, Boxing’s “experts” never gave Fury a prayer, he was establishing himself as somewhat of a pantomime villain, an enigma and an uncompromising controversial rising star that hailed himself “The Gypsy King”. Fury enjoyed his role as the outlaw, he took great pride in swimming against the tide, in a world where sportsmen and women are under such media scrutiny, they very rarely speak their mind – instead they just say the things that people want to hear. Tyson is different.

At 6ft9, Fury is a giant and a giant with an equally enormous sense of vulnerability about him, a vulnerability which in previous times has captured the hearts of the nation i.e Paul Gascoigne & Ricky Hatton, but despite all of his successes, he never got the praise, respect & recognition he felt he deserved. A British Heavyweight that conquered the unconquerable, a new world champion from the British shores was jeered at the Sports Personality Of The Year Awards. People campaigned for him not to be allowed through the doors. Britain’s most successful sport’s star from the year 2015 and without a shadow of a doubt the biggest personality, was being ousted by the media & frowned upon by the public.
Laughably, Andy Murray was handed the trophy. Time to rethink the name of the competition perhaps?

Fury has been fighting from day one, a premature birth resulted in him being born weighing just 1lb, as he battled on to stay alive, his father John saw a fighting spirit that earned his son the name Tyson. Born into a family with a deep history of bare knuckle fighting, Tyson’s path in life was to emulate those before him and make a stir in the heavyweight scene. In a recent interview with Gareth A Davies, Tyson highlighted how he’d always wanted to become the most controversial sports star on the planet. Whilst, he’s certainly made a good attempt of it, it seems his career is coming to a close.

Two schoolings against the then highly regarded Dereck Chisora, a knock out win over the accomplished Steve Cunningham and a convincing win against Christian Hammer had propelled Fury into the mandatory position for a shot at Klitschko, but he was certainly made to wait. Team Fury had always said they had the formula to stop Klitschko and to do a number on him in his own back yard where many men had failed, most notably David Haye – who incidentally postponed two scheduled bouts against Fury which has since left an extremely bitter taste in the mouth.

Recently, it’s seemed the rebirth of Tyson Fury was in effect, a number of social media posts of him in the gym, a training camp in Marbella with old pal Billy Joe Saunders and a detail of his hunger to derail the Anthony Joshua “hype train”. Yet, in a surprising twist yesterday, Peter Fury & promoter Mick Hennessy were present in the HayeMaker gym, laying down the foundations for a possible fight next year should Hughie beat Parker in September. Peter, Tyson’s coach & uncle, has often stressed his dislike to the Haye camp following the two postponements which left Tyson in a world of lost time. Tyson clearly had no idea about this surprise rendezvous and after seeing the pictures online, he took to twitter to announce his retirement.

Tyson PIC 3

In reference to the picture of Peter & Mick Hennessy, Fury took to Instagram –

“Can’t believe you’re in that pr***s gym & even considering doing business with that piece of ****. I’m totally disappointed in you both #JUMPINGINBEDWITHTHEENEMY “

He followed that post with an upload signaling his retirement, “Been very blessed in my life & career to achieve the utmost in Boxing, was an epic journey along the way. Thanks to all the fans that supported & believed in me along the way, Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. THE END.”

Fury, is still in the middle of a UKAD investigation into doping dating back to 2015, he has claimed he has been taking cocaine since being out of the ring, he has a battle to get back to fitness should he ever wish to lace up the gloves again, but now most hurtful of all, he feels betrayed by coach & uncle Peter.

Previously, I’d been confident that he would return to the ring, there was a glint in his eye as he bid to silence all his critics and reclaim what he believes is his – the status as World’s number one. Now, however, It seems he may have fought his last fight in the ring, but certainly not out of the ring, by his own admission Tyson has been plagued by depression, he’d previously stated “I’m seeing psychiatrists. Everything. They say I’ve got a version of bipolar. I’m a manic depressive.”

“I’ve not been in a gym for months. I’ve not been training. I’ve been going through depression. I just don’t want to live anymore, if you know what I’m saying.”

“I’ve had total enough of it. They’ve forced me to the breaking edge. Never mind cocaine. I just didn’t care. I don’t want to live anymore. So cocaine is a little minor thing compared to not wanting to live anymore.”

“I am seeking help, but they can’t do nothing for me. What I’ve got is incurable. I don’t want to live. All the money in the world, fame and glory, means nothing if you’re not happy. And I ain’t happy. I’m very far from it.”.

For all the controversy, all the foul-mouthed rants, all the social media slurs, Boxing needs Tyson Fury and Tyson Fury needs Boxing.

Tyson climbed his Everest when he beat Klitschko in 2015, he had hit his peak at just 27 and now it seems we may have the seen the last of him as a sporting entity and if we don’t see him in the ring again, let’s just hope he wins his most important fight of all.

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One Eye & a Bag of Tricks That Was Philly’s “Gypsy” Joe Harris


One Eye & a Bag of Tricks That Was Philly’s “Gypsy” Joe Harris
By: Ken Hissner

In the 60’s the baddest gym in Philadelphia was the 23rd PAL on Colombia Avenue. Such boxers as “Bad” Bennie Briscoe, “Cyclone” Hart, “Sugar” Hart, “Classy” Al Massey, Jimmy Young, “Boogaloo” Watts, “Smokin” Joe Frazier and the one-eyed “Gypsy” Joe Harris trained there.

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“I came to the 23rd PAL from the 39th PAL and was one of the few boxers. The others there liked to go to war. One day in order to see whowas the baddest guy in the gym insteps none other than “Bad” Bennie Briscoe and “Gypsy” Joe Harris into the ring. There was no referee or trainers involved. It was only for about a one when police officer Duke Dugent who ran the gym with an iron hand jumped in the ring pulling the two of them apart! Duke yelled at the two and said NEVER AGAIN! You’ve heard of Philly Gym Wars?

This was best of the best,” said Al Massey.

Briscoe was the AAU 147 champion and had a jab coming up from the floor like a sledge hammer always coming forward. Harris on the other hand was as slippery as you could get using angles (due to the eye) with arms wrapped around himself and weaving around hard to hit.

“He don’t make plans because he don’t know what he going to do until he do it,” said Willie Reddish (trainer). Born in Camden, NJ, word is Harris was “bag snatching” on Halloween and got hit in the right eye with a brick! He was a jokester so when he took eye exams he joked and got by them.

I was there the night Harris was fighting “Irish” Bobby Cassidy, a southpaw, who was holding Harris with his right hand on Harris’ left shoulder and he still couldn’t hit him! He had a bald head and could slip punch after punch.

Harris’ biggest win was over then welterweight champion Curtis Cokes in a non-title fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He would be asked afterwards “where’s the party?” He replied “ain’t no party here man, I’m from Philly!”

Today Cokes would have been stripped of his title for he was “nowhere to be found” when Harris showed up in Dallas for the rematch this time for the title! There was no ring in the hotel lobby and Cokes was “out fishing” per the local newspaper with picture in a row boat! Harris would move up to middleweight never to get close to a title fight again.

Harris turned professional in November of 1964 in Worcester, MASS, stopping Fred Walker in 3 rounds. In 1965 he went 9-0. In 1966 he defeated C.L. Lewis over 6 rounds in a bout filled with bad blood between the two of them. In May of 1966 he took on fellow Philly fighter Johnny Knight, 14-4-1 improving to 13-0 with the last 12 fights all in Philadelphia.

In October of 1966 Harris took on fellow Philadelphian Stanley “Kitten” Hayward, 22-2-1, stopping him in 6 rounds though coming off the floor in the third round. Next up was Cuban Jose Stable, 27-8-2, defeating Sidney “Sweet Pea” Adams and C.L. Lewis in NY. Then he defeated Cokes, Philly’s Charley Scott and Hayward in NY before coming to Philly to defeat Dick Turner, 19-0-1. In 1965 he lost in a title fight to Emile Griffith before returning to Philly losing to Percy Manning. He would lose to Harris in 1966.

Harris would go onto stop Knight in a rematch in 1967. Then he had the non-title win over Cokes weighing 151 improving to 18-0 at MSG before returning to Philly weighing 160 defeating Teddy Wright, 46-15-10.He would return to Dallas in the co-feature to Cokes defending against France’s Francois Pavilla. Harris posted a win but was at 158 ½ while 3 months later down to 152 in a war against Miguel Barreto, 15-1, winning a close one. Then coming off the canvas in the ninth to defeat Cassidy and win a rematch with Barreto. In February of 1968 he beat Dick DiVeronica, 38-8, just 6 months to his career ending fight against former world champion Emile Griffith, 55-9 in Philly.

Just before the Griffith fight Harris would marry a bar maid in Atlantic City and disappear showing up at the 23rd PAL Gym. “I only had a week to get him back in shape for Griffith,” said Duke Dugent (ran the gym). He was up to 160 losing to Griffith over 12 rounds. His offense was not there but his defense was. His 24 bout win streak was stopped. This fight set an indoor attendance record in Philly.

Getting back into the ring with Manny Gonsalves was to be his comeback fight when it was finally discovered at the examination he had no sight in an eye. The charade and career for Harris was over. It was blamed on a gym war with C.L. Lewis who thumbed him and Harris hit him in return in the “family jewels!” With a blood filled eye it brought the attention of the physician.

This writer made an attempt to get Harris to either Puerto Rico or Canada where he would possibly be able to fight. I was with him at the 23rd PAL with Dugent and we went to his family doctor to get the records to prove he had been blind fighting for some time but the doctor was not there. I never saw Harris again and he never fought again! Harris was one of the most “colorful” boxers out of Philadelphia in their history! He was only 22 and lived another 22 years before dying from a heart ailment at age 44! He is still talked about in Philly gyms this day.

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