Boxers like Fury may rarely be humble – but they should be role models

Tyson Fury shocked the world on Saturday when he beat Wladimir Klitschko to become the heavyweight champion of the world.

In a world where so many sportsmen tow the line to ensure that sponsors are not offended, where image is everything, Fury has been a breath or fresh air.

His press conferences bordered on the bizarre, full of songs and superhero outfits that entertain, and capture the headlines.

Few gave him a chance against Ukrainian Klitschko, who was unbeaten in more than a decade and his post-fight press conference on Monday was full of the bravado and confidence such a fine boxing win might provoke.

Among the gems Fury said were:

"I'm not surprised or overwhelmed. I always said it and it has come true."

"That was a masterclass performance over the best fighter on the planet. No-one else had landed any shots on the guy. It just shows you what type of talent you're messing with. 

"Anyone who wants to try and discredit my performance is just pure jealous".

And his father, John Fury, who also appeared at the press conference, was equally bullish:

"If there is such as thing as the 8th wonder of the world, then you're looking at it. My son. He had people disbelieving him, people discrediting him."

"This is a new beginning in boxing. This has never been done before, and will never be done again."

Sports journalists and fans love a winner and Fury's story, from humble beginnings to world champion, is certainly in the best Rocky traditions.

But sport now has an even greater focus than in the days when Mike Tyson was dominating the division and creating controversy both inside and outside the ring.

Just as we love an underdog, when sports people, who almost always earn big money from their talent, get too confident, we delight in seeing them fall.

And Fury has not helped himself by making numerous controversial comments about homosexuality and abortion, not to mention the end of days.

Speaking in the Daily Mail recently, Fury said: "People can say, “Oh, you are against abortions, you are against paedophilia, you are against homosexuality, you’re against whatever”, but my faith and my culture is all based on the bible. The bible was written a long time ago, from the beginning of time until now, and if I follow that and it tells me it’s wrong, then it’s wrong for me. That’s just my opinion."

In light of his victory, the media asked Fury whether he would ever change his ways now that his profile makes him a role model for young generations hoping to take up boxing, to which he responded: 

"It depends what type of role model you're after. If you're after a yes man, it's not me. If you want someone who knows what the world is like, then yes, they can look up to me. If people don't like it, change the channel. Don't take photos. Don't print it in your newspaper. Do I care? Not really."

That denies the point that elite sportsmen have a responsibility to be careful what the say. Sports fans young and old can be impressionable and the likes of Fury has a role to play through his words and deeds extolling the differences between right and wrong.

Boxing is a sport which promotes respect and self-discipline and is used to such great effect through projects such as Fight for Peace in London and Rio de Janeiro.

Fury is certainly a personality and deserves his moment of glory.

With his boxing record, he may well hold onto the accolade of Champion for longer than many have predicted.

But there will be many who celebrate when he does lose a fight, such is the unpalatable nature of some of his comments which may cost him sponsorships as well as fans.