You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

+Sports Top Stories

Jason O'Toole: Why doesn't the Irish public recognise Tyson Fury as one of their own?

Irish Mirror logoIrish Mirror 09/12/2018 Jason O'Toole
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Lineal Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury answers questions from members of the Los Angeles media during a press conference in advance of his highly anticipated WBC Heavyweight World Championship against undefeated WBC World Champion Deontay Wilder on December 1st at Churchill Boxing Club on October 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) © Getty LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Lineal Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury answers questions from members of the Los Angeles media during a press conference in advance of his highly anticipated WBC Heavyweight World Championship against undefeated WBC World Champion Deontay Wilder on December 1st at Churchill Boxing Club on October 25, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

If you asked the general public to pick their top Irish sports stars in 2018, you’d get the usual suspects – Conor McGregor, Katie Taylor, Johnny Sexton, Rory McIlroy and the O’Donovan brothers.

There would be many other Irish rugby heroes deservedly thrown into the mix thanks to their historic victories over New Zealand and Australia, as well as beating England at Twickenham to win the Six Nations.

But I doubt many of us, apart from diehard boxing fans, would even think about nominating Tyson Fury – yet his father was born in Tuam, Co Galway, and his mother is from Belfast.

Download the Microsoft News app for your Android or iPhone device and get news & live updates on the go.

His story is one to rival Rocky. Written-off as a has-been, Fury showed true grit by shedding 10 stone to earn a controversial draw in his world title fight.

It feels like we don’t consider him as a bona fide Irishman. But you could argue he is more Irish than Leo Varadkar or Michael Fassbender.

Unlike the Taoiseach with an Indian father and the Hollywood star born in Heidelberg to a German father, at least Fury can claim both his parents were

actually born here.

He’s certainly more Irish than Adam Clayton or The Edge – neither of whom were born here or have Irish parents.

After becoming world champion in 2015, Fury proudly said: “I’m the first Irish heavyweight champion of the world – me, Tyson Fury.”

Yet I don’t recall any congratul-atory messages from President Michael D Higgins or the Irish Government.

a man holding a sign © Credits: Inpho

To celebrate his Irish roots, Fury took to the ring last week wearing green boxing gloves with white lacing and gold print for the logo – a clear nod to the tricolour.

He once said: “All my people

are from Ireland. I was born in Manchester but I am Irish. I have lived in Ireland, visited all my life and when I fight I represent Ireland.”

We’re talking about a man who desperately wanted to fight for Ireland at the Olympics and could have won us a gold medal.

Fury did much of his early boxing working out of gyms in Monaghan and Belfast. He won the Irish heavyweight title in 2012, but faced many stumbling blocks.

Fury’s dream of representing Ireland at the Olympics was dashed after he was forced to withdraw from the Irish national championship because of protests about his eligibility.

He had problems proving his Irishness because his father’s birth was not registered with the State.

He had only been baptised, which was a common enough practice amongst the Travelling community at the time. It was a major blow, but he proved his Irish heritage in the end. It’s a shame

it didn’t work out because it’s not like Ireland has too many Olympic champions to boast about – we’ve produced nine in the past 90 years.

Ironically, Fury is where he is today because he didn’t get to the Olympics. He decided to turn pro after his unsuccessful attempt to be selected for Ireland or – with his second choice – Great Britain at Beijing 2008.

a man standing in front of a crowd: OS ANGELES, USA - DECEMBER 01: Tyson Fury (R) stares down Deontay Wilder (L) at the bell during WBC Heavyweight Championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on December 01, 2018. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited OS ANGELES, USA - DECEMBER 01: Tyson Fury (R) stares down Deontay Wilder (L) at the bell during WBC Heavyweight Championship at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on December 01, 2018. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Perhaps he is still being snubbed for offensive remarks he made in the past. But he apologised in 2016 and vowed to become a better person.

And he’s quite literally putting his money where his mouth is and plans to give away the $10million [€8.8million] from his last fight.

He said: “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.

“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.”

Doesn’t such wonderful generosity more than atone for his past sins? This, in my book, makes him

a far better role model than McGregor who likes to boast ad nauseam about his obscene wealth.

I wonder if Fury is not being celebrated as much as is richly deserved because he’s from the Travelling community.

He wouldn’t be the first famous Traveller to be snubbed either.

Love/Hate star John Connors – himself born in London – made one of the biggest Irish films in years with Cardboard Gangsters but says he can’t even get an agent.

a man wearing a blue shirt: 31/10/2014 John Connors who plays Patrick in Love/Hate at RTE HQ, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited 31/10/2014 John Connors who plays Patrick in Love/Hate at RTE HQ, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

He added: “Nothing is happening acting-wise. I have heard from directors and casting agents my politics doesn’t help – not least the Traveller movement which I speak out about.”

It’s appalling how the Travelling community still faces discrimination in this day and age, which was an issue back on the national agenda during the Aras election.

But I think even Peter Casey would be the first to agree Fury is as Irish as Mr Tayto.

Fury epitomises the fighting Irish mentality – he’s literally a born fighter having been delivered three months premature.

It’s a shame we’re not celebrating him more. Hopefully that will change if he regains the world champion crown in the rematch.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from the Irish Mirror

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon