Manchester boxer Tyson Fury, who promised to donate his entire £8 million purse to the poor and homeless – win or lose – before his world heavyweight title fight, dedicated his astonishing performance in the ring to people suffering mental health problems.
After twice getting up from the canvas and battling back to earn a controversial draw against the fearsome champion Deontay Wilder – most boxing aficionados believe Fury should have been named winner – he told BT Sport: “I have just shown the world tonight, anyone suffering mental health that you can come back and it can be done.
“Everybody out there who has the same problems I’ve been suffering with – I did that for you guys. You know the truth: everybody knows I won that fight and if I can come back from where I came from, then you can do it too.
“So get up, get over it, seek help and let’s do it together as a team.”
Before the fight in Los Angeles, Wythenshawe-raised Fury, 30, whose boxing career was widely written off after he ballooned in weight by ten stones and suffered from mental health, drug and drink related issues, said no matter the outcome he would give his purse to charity.
He pledged: “I’m going to give it to the poor and I’m going to build homes for the homeless.
“I don’t really have much use for it, I’m not interested in becoming a millionaire or a billionaire. I’m a boxer not a businessman and I’ll probably go down the same route as every other boxer – skint at the end of it all.
“You can’t take it with you, so I might as well do something with it and help out people who can’t help themselves.”
The former world heavyweight champion, who won the crown by ending Wladimir Klitscho’s 10 year reign in 2015, added: “When I go home I’m going to build some homes for the homeless and set up some funds for drug addicts and alcoholics.
“I was always going to do it but being here [in California] gives me that extra push to go and do it even more.
“It has really opened my eyes to a lot of things and I’m leaving as a better person.
“There are a lot of homeless people on the streets here, more than I’ve ever seen ever in my life. I’m staying in downtown LA but if you go five minutes down the road there’s like – I don’t know – thousands of homeless people.
“I’m just an outsider with an opinion but it’s a situation that is happening all over the world, especially in the UK as well.”
The Gypsy King – so called because of his Irish traveller heritage – has four children with his wife Paris and another on way. But he won’t be handing his fight earnings to his family.
He explained: “I believe all kids should make their own money in life because if they don’t, they won’t appreciate it.
“It’s easy to spend someone else’s money and the money I’ve earned is practically blood money.
“My kids have to make their own living and make their own way in life; they won’t be living off my name or reputation because that’s too easy a route.
The giant of a man who weighed only 1lb when born prematurely but was named after former world champion Mike Tyson, added: “You see many of these rich people’s kids doing nothing because they had it too easy.
“I never had it easy, I had to work for whatever I got. I was working from very young, everything I wanted in life I had to work for.”