DUSSELDORF, Germany (CHRISTIAN EXAMINER) — Newly crowned heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, says a British newspaper misquoted him when he could have been using hyperbole and satire to air his views on homosexuality and various other topics.
Fury, who was named after former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, is a professing Christian and he is no stranger to controversy.
The 27-year-old, nicknamed "Gypsy King," is now 25-0 after winning a unanimous decision Nov. 28 in Dusseldorf over Wladimir Klitschko, who had not lost in 11 years and had held the title for over nine years, to become the new WBA, IBF and WBO belt holder.
Fury is of Irish-Gypsy heritage and comes from a bloodline of bare-knuckle champions on both sides of his family, according to the New York Post.
The quotes in question come from an interview Fury granted The Daily Mail in early November.
'There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home: one of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one's paedophilia," he is quoted as saying in the story. "Who would have thought in the '50s and '60s that those first two would be legalised?
'When I say paedophiles can be made legal, that sounds like crazy talk doesn't it? But back in the '50s and early '60s, for them first two to be made legal would have been looked on as a crazy man again. If I would have told you 120 years ago, that a 1000-tonne aeroplane is going to float through the sky, a piece of steel — ludicrous."
Later Fury suggested he is misquoted and clearly taken out of context. Apparently he is using hyperbole and satire – both forms of exaggerated speech with the intent to ridicule and shame those who don't agree politically. These forms of speech and other exaggerated forms of athletic ability and boasting are common in wrestling where entertainment is part of the sport.
The interview, as reported, led to at least four petitions going up on Change.org, calling on the BBC to remove Fury from consideration of its Sports Personality of the Year shortlist.
Last week, the most popular petition has 40,695 supporters. Another one had 1,643 supporters before the person who started it shut it down in favor of the more popular one. The other two had less than one hundred supporters.
Last week a Washington Post article included comments from Fury that he made in a 15-minute radio interview with RTE Radio 1 in Ireland, denying what The Daily Mail printed.
"It is all misquotes," he says in the radio interview. "It is newspapers trying to sell papers on writing bad things about me.
"I don't have any hate for anybody. I'm not homophobic, I'm not racist and I'm not against any people. All I have for people is love because at the end of the day we are all brothers and sisters in God . . . What people do is none of my business."
He also spoke about the role his faith played in the fight against Klitschko.
"I'm a big believer in God, and I knew it was my destiny," he said. "I knew God had everything planned out, and it was only a matter of time before I was the heavyweight champion of the world. If God is with me, who can be against me?"
The writer of the article calls Fury "something of an anamoly" and points out that in Ireland "only 30 percent of the people cosider themselves religious," according to The Guardian online.
The British Boxing Board of Control fined Fury in 2013 for what it deemed to be abusive tweets aimed at opponents (in part, about their sexuality). And the same board fined him in 2014 for a "foul-mouthed tirade at a news conference," according to the BBC.
Currently, his Twitter timeline contains a number of Bible verses and retweets of Christian accounts.
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In an interview first published in the Catholic Herald in 2011 and then repubished just days before the championship fight, Fury discussed his Catholic faith, saying it is something he values more than boxing. Growing up with a Protest mother and a Catholic father, neither of whom he said practised their faith, Fury told the reporter his born-again uncle, who is a preacher, influenced him.
"Going to heaven is the most important thing a man or a woman could ever do and being right with God is the most important thing in life," he told the reporter.
"It is a hard thing to do and not as easy as people think. Not everyone is going to go to heaven and I hope I am one of the select few who are," Fury was quoted as saying.
As for wild statements and erratic behavior, Fury told the reporter at that time it was all a part of selling tickets and generating enthusiasm for the sport. It did not conflict with his moral code, and at the end of the day was part of the job for him.
"It tells us in the Bible we need to work, and boxing is just a sport at the end of the day."