At home with Tyson Fury: ‘I do the bins, I do the school run and I love picking up the dog poo’
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At home with Tyson Fury: ‘I do the bins, I do the school run and I love picking up the dog poo’

Sep 17, 2023

The heavyweight champion talks marriage, mental health and why he’s invited the cameras in to make a fly-on-the-wall show

Paris Fury is sitting on a stool in her kitchen, hair in curlers, conducting the orchestra of kids around her. Prince, her eldest son, has failed to buy jeans for the photoshoot taking place in an hour’s time, so he is swiftly dispatched with cash to get some. Venezuela, her eldest daughter, needs her hair brushing, and only a mother’s touch will do. Various other children – the Furys have six, with another on the way – come and go, requesting sausage rolls, rice pudding, drinks, toys, strokes of the new puppy, you name it. “I’m sorry about all this,” Paris will occasionally say, but the truth is she’s got the chaos under control.

Watching it unfold is like being in an episode of At Home With the Furys, the nine-part fly-on-the-wall reality series that’s due to hit Netflix later this month. The only difference is that the most unruly member of the house, the one who causes Paris the most stress, is not here.

Tyson Fury, the heavyweight champion of the world, decided to go to the gym at 7am, and nobody’s sure what time he might arrive back. Having watched At Home With the Furys, it’s not entirely clear if Tyson will arrive back. In the show we get to see the mental demons that have plagued his life at close range: mood swings, impulsive decisions, sudden disappearances.

The taxi driver who drops me outside the Fury house – a five-bed on the edge of Morecambe with gold curtains, His and Hers thrones and a gigantic Gypsy King logo freshly laid in the back drive – tells me how friendly the family are. “Very down to earth. I often see them doing their shopping in Asda,” he says, before adding darkly, “but let’s just say that the Tyson Fury you’d pick up when he’s doing fine is nothing like the Tyson Fury you’d pick up when he was in a very bad place.”

He’s referring to the depressive black hole that Fury fell into after beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to claim the IBF, IBO, WBA (Super) and WBO heavyweight titles. Reaching the pinnacle of his sport should have been a triumph, but Fury was alarmed to find he felt empty. He started drinking heavily, taking cocaine, things he used to be vehemently against. He ballooned to 30 stone (190kg) and contemplated suicide. On one particularly desolate night, he almost drove his Ferrari into a bridge at high speed. And then he did something astonishing: Fury not only pulled himself out of his hole, but fought his way back to fitness. Then, in one of the most remarkable sporting comebacks of all time, he became heavyweight champion of the world once more.

It would be easy to assume the story ends here, happily, but as the show highlights, he is still at the mercy of his mental health.

“On a good day, it’s great and you get these incredible highs where he wants to do everything, take the children everywhere,” says Paris. “And then you get a dark day where he is very down, completely shutting everybody out and questioning what’s the point of life. I’ve learned that you have to kind of roll with it.”

A car pulls up outside and a figure approaches the house: a towering presence, but looking surprisingly slim in polo shirt and shorts. “Hello,” he announces, as he walks past the people from Netflix and the Guardian who have assembled in his kitchen. “No idea who you are … or you … or you … ”

He’s funny, Tyson Fury. It’s part of the reason – alongside the ability to knock out some of the toughest men ever to fight – he’s become such a star. Like Muhammad Ali and Prince Naseem before him, Tyson knows that boxing is entertainment as well as sport – he once turned up for a press conference in a Lamborghini dressed as Batman, after all – which is why his fights draw huge audiences, and why he’s been offered serious money to make a Netflix show.

Holding court in the kitchen, he explains why the family’s new rottweiler pup, Moses, is so special – he has one blue eye and one brown eye – and fields hilariously left-field questions from TV director/producer Tina, the woman who convinced him to let cameras into the house for six months. Spotting a stray tenner by the kitchen sink, she asks Tyson what he’d do if he saw me stealing it. “I’d take Tim outside,” he says, “and say, here, have £200 because you obviously need the money if you’re doing things like that.” Not for the last time today, it’s an answer I didn’t see coming.

“I’m not clever, I’ve had no education beyond the age of 11,” Fury says, although he’s obviously smart, discussing hydrogen engines one minute and the early 1950s petition for the founding of Romanistan, a proposed country for the Roma people, the next. He also reels off a list of media outlets that he will not be speaking to in the near future, if ever: the BBC, the Daily Mail, TalkSport … all for the reason of “printing shite and fake news”. Thankfully, the Guardian isn’t mentioned, so we retire to the “blue room” for our interview – a living space with plush sofas, a rendering of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel fresco on the ceiling and a big chandelier that shakes whenever the kids get too boisterous upstairs.

Why, I ask, did they want to let cameras in to film their lives?

“We’re all over the media every day anyway,” says Tyson, “but they portray a different portrait of what we really are. Being a big superstar boxer, a multimillionaire, people think, ‘Oh, he’s going to be living this extravagant lifestyle.’ But when they see it, I think they’re going to be pretty shocked.”

“Most days we’re just sat at home being tortured alive by six kids,” says Paris.

This might be a strange thing to say about a family who have a Michelangelo on their ceiling, but normality is important to the Furys. It’s why they live in Morecambe, away from the celebrity world. In the show, you watch Tyson grumbling about having to haul rubble from his roof, or Paris juggling a dozen household chores. Couldn’t they just pay someone to sort all that stuff for them?

“It’s normal life, isn’t it?” says Paris. “And it’s showing the kids normal life as well. I don’t want them to think that somebody’s going to do their supermarket shopping, or run and get their shoes. You’re not sending a personal shopper to go to Harvey Nichols to pick you out a dress – you’re running to Primark to get socks and underpants. That’s normality. And even though there’s times when that’s not possible, because you’re jetting off to one of Tyson’s fights, we try to keep some normality at home.”

Tyson nods: “If you took all these jobs away, what would I be doing? Sat upstairs wanking myself silly?”

Paris rolls her eyes: “Talk about lowering the tone … ”

For someone with a lot on her plate, Paris seems content. Although that’s probably not a word you could ever use for her restless husband. The show depicts him leaving family parties at the drop of a hat, or booking (and then cancelling) luxury holidays at a moment’s notice. The portrait of his mental illness is unflinching and not always sympathetic – because that’s how depression appears to outsiders. Fury is nothing but charming today, but during the interview he occasionally seems to zone out, a distant expression on his face, and it’s hard not to imagine what kind of whirling thoughts are going on inside his head. Then he’ll snap back into the room with a joke that brings the house down. Was it hard letting the cameras film his darker moments?

“I’ve been very open about my mental health, for people to take notes and learn from my mistakes,” he says. “And I believe I’ve saved a lot of lives by doing so, so I’ll continue to talk about it daily.”

“I don’t think mental health is ever cured, is it?” says Paris. “It can’t be just solved and switched off and put in a cupboard. It’s got to be continued with. So that’s what we do on a daily basis, and you can see how we go through life with Tyson’s issues, which are a lot less than they used to be, admittedly.”

“I don’t know,” says Tyson, quietly, staring into the distance. What does he do to keep his mental health positive: any drugs or therapy?

“Training is my medication,” he says, suddenly upbeat again. “A healthy lifestyle, training regularly and a structured routine with short-term goals.”

“Now that we’ve diagnosed it, you recognise certain trigger points,” says Paris. “When Tyson comes in feeling down, years ago I used to get straight on his case: ‘What’s the matter with you? Why you got a problem?’ Now, I sort of let him roll with it. I maybe suggest a walk or a coffee. Lift the mood without going too deep. Because if you go too deep he will start denying the fact that he’s in a mood, and then it causes a row.”

Fury delivers an impression: “‘Why are you in a mood?’ I’m not in a mood! ‘But why are you in a mood?’ I’M NOT IN A MOOOOD!!!”

“It’s difficult to deal with Tyson on a daily basis,” says Paris. “Anyone who works with him understands this. Even his friends.”

The door flies open – it’s four-year-old Adonis, their youngest boy. “Every Lego I build Athena breaks it!” he says. “All right, then,” says Paris, “you build it and put her out of the area, and Tyson [their second son, AKA Tutty], don’t let her break his Lego!”

Paris was 15 when she met Fury in the summer of 2005; she was surprised to learn this giant of a man with bushy sideburns was only a year or so older than her. They were both from Traveller communities – he grew up in Styal, a village near Manchester airport, whereas she grew up on Tilts Farm, a Traveller site in South Yorkshire.

The next year they went on their first date to see King Kong at the cinema, Fury waited until the end of the film, when Kong was climbing up the Empire State Building, before going in for the first kiss. “It took me an hour and 40 minutes to pick up the courage,” he admits.

Paris liked Fury because he seemed different from other lads she knew. He was often quiet and shy. And he had a plan – he was going to become a boxer and then the heavyweight champion of the world. “You had a quiet confidence about it, didn’t you?” she says. They married in 2008.

The couple faced prejudice for being Travellers – sometimes being turned away from venues and shops. “That was years ago, not so much now,” says Tyson. “Not to my face anyway. It’s mainly slimy little fuckers behind my back. But I’ve got eyes everywhere in this town. So I’ll go into a sandwich shop or whatever, and then when I walk out someone will say, ‘Who does he think he is, a gyppo in a Rolls-Royce?’ But I hear back because someone will tell me who’s in the shop at the time.”

He rejects the idea that this may hold him back in any way. “Everybody’s got a problem with somebody. I hate that victim mentality: ‘Oh, he doesn’t like me.’ You just get on with it.”

In Paris’s 2021 book, Love And Fury, she talks about mental health being a particularly taboo subject in Traveller communities but, when I bring this up, Tyson’s response surprises me. “All this Traveller shite I’m not interested in,” he says. “We’re all human beings. There is no Traveller community. If there is, I’m not part of it. It’s all the real world. Everyone’s in the same community.”

After Fury first won the heavyweight title, there was a backlash in the press as past comments were brought to the surface. Fury claimed that “no one wants to see a Gypsy do well”, which may have had some truth to it. But some of the criticism was justified – he’d made comments, often wrapped up in Old Testament language, about women, Jews, gay and transgender people that can only be described as vile.

“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 told the Mail on Sunday in 2015. “Who would have thought in the 50s and 60s that those first two would be legalised?”

He’s offered apologies since for causing offence, explaining how that’s the last thing a Christian man would want to do, but for many it has soured the Fury story. I wonder how he looks back on what he’s said.

“I’m a sportsman. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, and I don’t regret anything,” he says. “At that time, there was a lot going on in my life. I was a very ill person. I didn’t want to live, so I didn’t care about anything. You can’t really be judged for your actions when you’re unwell. It’s like trying to judge a crazy person. But I’m not interested in talking about that bullshit. I’m here to talk about Netflix, not stuff that I’ve done in the past.”

Later, it’s suggested to me that I was lucky he didn’t walk out of the interview. Fury, I’m told, feels ashamed of the comments – something I can easily believe. But if that’s the case, explaining where they came from and how he’s changed his outlook since might be the best way to move forward. Instead, we head for safer ground by discussing the family dynamic. In interviews, Paris has said that Tyson, when he’s not away training for a fight or struggling mentally, shares the childcare 50/50. But he’s not having this.

“It’s not 50/50. Paris does it all,” he says. “Paris does all the stuff in the house, and I do everything outside. I do the bins, I do the school run and I pick up the dog shit. I’m an expert at the dog shit picking up. Love it. I absolutely love it!”

What else does he do?

“I get my brains knocked out and pay the bills, right? Hoovering or whatever is her job.”

That’s funny, I say, because I’m sure I’d read that you were a whiz with a vacuum cleaner.

“I am a whiz with a vacuum,” he accepts. “I’m OCD. So I do it. I’m not an untidy person. If I see an empty cup or whatever, I wash it up, pack it away. Not a problem.”

He’s always been a grafter, but domestic life doesn’t seem to be a natural fit for Tyson. Whenever he’s tried to retire from boxing, he swiftly gets lured back into the ring. Without the sport, and the training routine it provides, Fury seems to spiral. In one episode of the show, he says: “I’d rather get punched the fuck out by 10 world champions than have to stay at home and do these jobs.”

“And I would,” he says. “A housewife’s got a very hard job. I’d rather labour all day and make 50 quid than have to look after six screaming kids in the house.”

Is that nice to hear, Paris?

“Yeah!” she says. “That does make me feel better, because I know that I am appreciated.” She smiles: “Tyson has had to take the reins on occasions, and after two or three days he’ll be shaking on the phone: ‘When are you coming back?!’”

They’re a good fit, Paris and Tyson. Without her there behind him – fiercely loyal, no-nonsense, but always open to learning and adapting – it’s impossible to say how much Tyson would have achieved, or even if he’d still be here. She was heavily pregnant when he competed to try to regain the heavyweight title against Deontay Wilder in 2018, “and whenever he fights, my insides are just shaking”. Tyson had been gradually taking control of the fight when, in the final round, Wilder landed a punch that floored the Gypsy King. Most people – commentators, the crowd, Wilder himself – assumed the fight was done. Paris tried to climb over the barriers to get to her husband, but by the time she was near the ring, Tyson had somehow risen from the dead like a WWE character – and he was fighting back.

“I remember thinking: ‘Whatever are you doing?’ I just wanted him to run away. I wanted it all to be finished. And he was throwing punches,” says Paris. The match ended with a draw – and Wilder retaining the title (controversially, as many commentators thought Tyson was the overall victor), but Fury reclaimed his crown by winning a rematch 14 months later.

“I think it’s very difficult watching a partner,” accepts Tyson. How would he feel about his kids going into the family trade? “Pretty good, because boxing gives kids a very good structure and a good start in life.” His daughter Venezuela was once keen – Tyson briefly had an image of her as the next Laila Ali, until she got punched in the nose and said, “I don’t like that Daddy.”

These days, 11-year-old Prince is showing signs of interest, but Tutty is the child most likely to box. Does he have a strong punch?

“Yeah,” says Tyson. “All of them have, they’re all strong kids.”

Are they scared of him?

He looks at me like I’m daft: “I tell them one thing, they do another.”

“They’re more scared of me,” says Paris.

“I could scream this place down, makes no difference. She can raise a voice and they do it.”

It’s time to take some pictures, which means getting eight Furys dressed in their Sunday best and rounded up together in one room. Tyson nips upstairs and returns in a suit decorated with multicoloured logos of his energy drink Furocity. I don’t fancy the photographer’s chances of getting everyone to look at the camera at once, but they’re remarkably well behaved – even putting their hands up before answering her questions. If anyone looks out of sorts, it’s Tyson, who seems keen to get it all over with. “Smile for the camera, so we can finish,” he says.

When it’s time for a change of outfit, Tyson re-emerges in a wonderful camouflage co-ord tracksuit, but before more photographs can take place he announces that he’s off. Off? People look around nervously. “I need to buy a sandwich,” he says. When he hears that I’m walking back to my hotel, he kindly offers to give me a lift. I get into one of his gigantic vehicles and we head off.

He’s a slightly different Tyson in this environment, still chatty, still charming, but softer. What’s it like living in London, he asks, is it safe? He prefers it up here in Morecambe: “Proper people. Working-class people.”

He doesn’t get pestered as much when he’s out and about up here. Fame, he says, is overrated. “At first it’s an ego boost, but if there was a way to have success without the fame, then I would. That’s what worries me about this show. When it comes out, things could go up another notch again.”

He drops me right outside the door of my hotel. “There you go Tim, nice to meet you.” We shake hands and I try to take one last gauge of what’s going on inside that head of his. Then he drives off – to get a sandwich? To return for the photos? Or to somewhere far, far away from all that madness? I honestly couldn’t tell you.

At Home With the Furys is on Netflix from 16 August.