Fury: Let's smash the stigma on mental health

Tuesday 14 May 2024 14:37

Boxing’s heavyweight champion of the world and lifelong Manchester United fan Tyson Fury has urged supporters to speak up about their mental health.

The ‘Gypsy King’ fell into a spiral of depression after beating the great Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 and subsequently spent three years out of the ring. 

After speaking publicly about his struggles, he returned to conquer the sport all over again and, on Saturday, he will fight Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed title. 

On a recent visit to Old Trafford, and ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, club reporter Zarah Connolly sat down with Fury to pass his message to fans who might be struggling. We urge anyone who might be struggling to read on...

We are big believers in advocating for mental health and looking out for other people across the whole world, across our fan base and beyond. For you, how important is it to talk about mental health?
“It’s very important. I've been speaking about mental health for coming up to 10 years now. We all know the story about me, breaking down and coming back again. So I think it's very important to keep talking about it, to try to smash the stigma on mental health.”
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It was so encouraging when you did speak out about it, because everyone relates to you being strong and powerful. What was it like when you first talked about it, and what kind of reception did you get?
“It was difficult at first, you know. Who do you speak to? Where do you go? Who is it that you're going to try to express your feelings to? So I think that was the most difficult part of it all, coming out and trying to get help. You know, I think I first spoke about it with my wife. Even if you don't go to a doctor or somebody quickly, then you speak about it with your friend, your partner, whoever it might be, because help is around the corner. And my biggest mistake was I didn't go 10 years earlier and try to seek help. But I think the major thing is you've got to really accept that you need help first. And that's the first step to acceptance.”
I guess it shows how important those allies are?
“You know, it can be, it can break the strongest of people. Look at me. I was undefeated world heavyweight champion and it brought me to my knees. And it's a constant battle, daily. It never goes away. You have just got to learn to maintain and manage a bit better than you did before. So through education and talking about it and speaking to different people, you understand it a bit more and learn how to deal with it.”
There was such a positive reception when you did speak about it, mainly people deciding to write to you on social media to say how you've encouraged them to speak openly. What does that do for you? Does it give you such a good feeling?
“You know, it gives me a really good feeling because, other than entertaining on a Saturday night, which I've done for a long time, it's bigger than sports. It's bigger than boxing. Because, you know, entertainment brings joy, but saving people's lives is saving people from death. So, you know, the more people who speak out about high-profile people, the easier it is for the normal person in the street to come up with it and realise they need some help. So I keep talking about it and keep banging that drum.”
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And what would you say to your fans now? 
“Just keep talking about it. I think the key to all problems is conversation. The more conversations you have with certain subjects, the more education you get and the more help you can receive. So if anyone is suffering with mental health, seek help immediately. And like I said before, if it's not with a doctor or whoever, speak to your friends. Speak to your pals, speak to your girlfriend, speak to your boyfriend, speak to whoever it might be. Because bottling it up leads to an explosion like I had, a meltdown. When you get to that point, you've left it too far. But no matter what stage you're at, there's always a return. It won't be grey every day, there will be sunshine days again. And that's the promise, for sure.”