“I was in a really dark place. I couldn’t get out of bed for weeks at a time.” World Boxing Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury’s mental health journey has been challenging and isolating, but it has also made him stronger than ever before. He is the current world heavyweight champion of boxing, but this wasn’t always the case. Tyson discusses his experience with bipolar disorder, anxiety, addiction and how he overcame these obstacles to become one of today’s best boxers.
Being World Boxing Champion made him an inspiration to many all over the world. He stands as a giant in his sport and has helped set new standards for boxing with his innovative fighting style. But not everyone knows Fury has been fighting off mental health issues since he was 11 years old. In this blog post, we will be looking at Tyson’s story and how it parallels those of millions of people around the globe who have mental illness every day.
Who is Tyson Fury?
Tyson Fury is a British professional boxer who was born in Wythenshawe, Manchester. Tyson’s father, John Andrew Fury, had been the heavyweight champion of the UK and Europe during his boxing career from 1984 until 1992. Tyson started boxing at an early age like his dad, and he won youth titles while still in school.
Tyson Fury had suffered from anxiety issues ever since his childhood days, which were exacerbated by how he grew up. Tyson’s mother, Amber Tyson, had 14 pregnancies in total, with Tyson being the youngest. Four of her children died during childhood. Tyson was born three months too early and weighed only one pound at birth. This experience has stayed with Fury throughout his life – he even named his dog Ramona after what happened to his sister all those years ago.
Fury has bipolar disorder, and he used to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. Tyson opened up about suffering from bipolar disorder in 2015. Still, Tyson has been an advocate for mental health awareness ever since he first became the world heavyweight boxing champion in 2015.
Mental Health Struggles
Tyson has been open about his struggles with mental illness. He was first diagnosed as a teenager, but he even admitted to doctors that he knew something was wrong before they told him.
Fury had his first serious fight with depression in his adult years, which had led to multiple suicide attempts throughout his career. Tyson discussed one of his most severe depressive episodes that occurred when he was 22-years-old. He had been training for a fight with Steve Cunningham, but Tyson’s career almost came to an end because of this mental health crisis.
He had lost all motivation to train, and that nothing seemed worthwhile anymore. He even considered quitting boxing altogether, but his dad encouraged him to seek help after learning about Tyson’s suicidal thoughts. He learned to use boxing as a form of therapy to keep him focused and distracted (in a positive way,) which would eventually become a problem after his retirement in 2015.
“I was in a really dark place. I couldn’t get out of bed for weeks at a time.”
Fury was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19 years old after suffering a major manic episode triggered by cocaine abuse. This led to him being hospitalized while also facing suicidal thoughts. At first, it wasn’t clear what exactly brought on the change in Tyson’s condition since there were no apparent triggers like divorce or death in the family. But later research revealed he may have inherited some of his mental health issues from his mother.
Tyson’s doctor explained that bipolar disorder is a brain chemistry issue and not just a result of mood swings. He was finally able to get the help he needed for bipolar, which allowed him to make significant changes in how he lives with this condition today.
Addiction & Substance Abuse
Fury drank heavily and took cocaine to deal with his depression, which led him into rehab. Tyson’s substance abuse issues have been widely publicized by the media, which has led to him being one of the most controversial figures in boxing history. His reckless behavior after his retirement, combined with his lifestyle change and lack of conditioning, caused him to take on a new battle with obesity as his weight ballooned up to 400lbs. The importance of all of his issues piled up and forced him to come to a crossroads in his life. Stay on his current path and get worse, or put in the effort to handle his issues and fight again.
“It [all] nearly killed me, so maybe the mental health issues were a blessing because it made me face up to myself.“
Coming Out of Retirement
Tyson had a long road ahead of him to get back into fighting conditions. But after losing 150 lbs in just under two years, Tyson had quickly transformed into a completely different person. Over time, he has managed to slim down and has successfully regained most of his boxing capabilities and increased his speed and strength with intense workouts.
Since then, he has been victorious in all 19 of his professional fights, including his championship match against Deontay Wilder last week, to retain the WBC heavyweight boxing title.
Tyson Fury’s Greatest Battle
Tyson discusses how he kept fighting despite his darkest days because boxing was always there when nobody else could help him. Tyson understands what it means to be mentally ill and an athlete, which makes him an inspiration to so many worldwide today.
Fury has been a vocal advocate in the fight against mental health. The story of this heavyweight champion should inspire and motivate people who suffer from similar conditions but struggle to find motivation for getting better.
He stood up against all odds, just like millions do every day with their battles; by using boxing as therapy and advocating awareness about bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, and addiction, he became a champion of mental health advocacy.
“I want to spread the word on mental health so when other people are in this position in the future they know where to go and they know what to do because there’s a blueprint.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the blueprint to positive mental health, let the team at The Mental Health Center of San Diego help; call 858-465-7722. A care coordinator will help you get on the same track that helped Tyson Fury become a champion.