Peter Fury
    
Before discussing Peter Fury the boxing trainer, responsible for guiding his nephew Tyson Fury to the world heavyweight championship, it is imperative to look at Peter Fury the person.  A man who has known lows in his life but today stands at the pinnacle of world boxing.  You get the feeling speaking with Peter that he has no comprehension of how important he is in the world of boxing.  Grounded, humble, affable and more than happy to give up his time.  These are all traits that those at the top of boxing will claim to have, but Peter Fury backs them up. 
 
I had discussed in advance with Peter that we were looking for someone to be the 100th interview on our site and we wanted it to be someone special, so it was a delight when Peter agreed.  After all, he is in boxing terms the equivalent of the manager of the football World Cup winners or the coach you see in the box at Wimbledon fist pumping as their charge secures the men’s singles title.  He’s the elite.  "It's an honour for me as well" Peter tells me.  There’s no hint of lip service, Peter is genuine.  I have caught him at a time when he is away from home in early training camp with his son Hughie out in the south of Holland.  Returning from a day of hard work getting Hughie ready for his upcoming March bout, Peter tells me about how he likes to pass the time when he is away from home.  A man who is both renowned and appreciated by boxing fans for personally answering questions on Twitter with a no bullshit approach, is it a drag from Peter to take his time out and inform fans of the inner workings of a camp?
 
“It's all about the fans, I enjoy it! I enjoy speaking to them, that's what keeps me in boxing as well! I do enjoy the feedback and the back and forth, especially when I'm in camp and there's nothing to do when I get back to the hotel room. I come back and go on Twitter to interact with the fans, there's nothing better. That's what makes the job all the more enjoyable for me, I like doing that. A lot of people get so far up and think they're a different type of person. We're all the same!”
 
Boxing is perhaps the last sport where you can create a mega event and a world renowned superstar yet fans can still feel in touch with them.  Go back to the World Cup winning coach.  Would he take the time to personally and individually answer fans questions about who their team will be playing next, or how a training session has gone?  Highly unlikely.  It was only November 28th of last year, around two months back, where Peter was in the corner and the mastermind behind the performance that saw Tyson Fury take the IBF, WBA and WBO titles from the champion of ten years Wladimir Klitschko.  For the fighter in this scenario, it may well feel once the titles are in your hands that the work is done for next time, no more physical training camp for a few weeks and the chance to unwind.  Both physically and mentally, it is the opportunity to release after the work is done.  But for the trainer it appears that ability to ‘switch off’ is a more arduous process:
 
“With boxing, everything else goes onto the back burner. So much so, there's so much dedication that after that Klitschko fight I took my wife and youngest daughter abroad. There's so much stress, and I'm not talking anxiety. I didn't manage to relax over Christmas. I didn't enjoy Christmas. I put 15 kilos on of body weight. This must be the stress coming out, the relief! I never switched off or calmed down until I went to my place in London with my wife and youngest daughter again and I did relax, I managed to switch off. But I didn't fully switch off until around New Years Eve or something. That gives you an idea of what you have to go through to get where you need to get. We're all programmed differently and it does take a lot out of you.”
 
So how then does Peter manage to unwind away from the pressures of training?  “I'm only a man of flesh and blood and my faith keeps me going and my family. My wife, my children and my close friends around me, they keep me going. I lost my other brother and that was a very bad blow for me. My own family keep me going. It's not about me, I get a lot of help from people I have known most of my life. When I do something I put my life into it.”
 
I have been fortunate enough to cross paths with Peter before – probably not times that he would remember but they certainly stick out to me.  After Tyson demolished Dereck Chisora in their second fight back in November 2014 I was lucky enough to head ringside and grab a photo opportunity with Peter and the coveted British title.   This was after a world title eliminator that saw Tyson Fury work his jab to so much effect the Chisora had no option but to pull out of the fight after his face took sustained damage.  For Peter, I have no doubt that he would want to head with the tight knit team to the changing rooms and both celebrate and reflect on the fight, but instead he stood with fans and posed for photos while answering any questions they had.  In other words his commitment to fan interaction isn’t limited to the online, he is happy to give up his time just as much in person.
     
  
For now, Peter’s time is being spent in Holland with his son Hughie as they prepare for the 21 year olds assault on the heavyweight division.  Undoubtedly a huge talent (read our piece with Hughie here )  the biggest issue he has faced in his career to date is convincing the biggest names to share a ring with him.  It sounds as if that could be about to change as Peter tells me.  “Mick Hennessy (the Fury’s promoter) is in talks with some world class opponents, so Hughie will get a top fight. The only reason it's not been announced yet is because the date hasn't been fixed but it will probably be late March. He's going to be in a good fight. We're looking to get Hughie a top ten ranking with quite a few of the governing bodies so that next fight, that's what we're looking to achieve.”  A prime example of the issues they have encountered with nailing down opponents is shown back in November when the titles were secured for the Fury camp.  “We had Nicolai Firtha done and signed for the undercard of the Tyson against Klitschko fight. Obviously, one week before the fight something happened to him and the fight never came off which put us in a bit of a pickle. We were trying to get anyone in the end but it all fell through. We could get him out the week after though and it was very good of (Larry) Olubamiwo to step in for that as it was just to get Hughie a fight and to get him out there after all the training camp he had.”

We discuss another man who Hughie fought twice in 2013, the man from Northern Ireland Moses Matovu (read our piece with Moses
here ).  Matovu, a man who nowadays takes on the role of entertainer in the ring as he accepts his role as a journeyman, recognised Hughie as one of two fighters that he knew he couldn’t work his repertoire of playful tricks on.  He acknowledged the younger fighters power in his right hand, meaning the crowd went home with less entertainment that night but Matovu could return back safely to his family.  Fury is quick to show his respect to Matovu and those that are imperative in developing young talents in boxing.  “He's a good lad Moses, we know him well. He's a proper gentleman of the sport and it's people like him that make boxing and the fighters what they are today. Without people like Moses Matovu these up and young talents wouldn't be where they are today. He's a top man, I have a lot of respect for him and his trainer and we know them quite well. He's got a young family and holds a nine to five job as well, he does all of that and boxes as well. You wouldn't want to upset him walking around the store would you?!” laughs Peter.
 
With a big name on the horizon and being finalised by promoter Mick Hennessy, how far does Peter see his son from being at the elite of the heavyweight division?  “The idea for Hughie is he's still progressing. We're going to get him in a top 10 ranking position and the reason behind this isn't to rip hold of a world title, I'm not interested in the belts. The reason is so he's up there and other top fighters will take him on. They're looking now at fighters ranked 7, 8 or 9 in the world. Guys in the top 10 aren't going to fight a guy who's ranked at 25, this is the reasoning behind it. Get him in the top 10 then the fights in the top ten can be made. For Hughie, we want to keep him fighting regularly. He will fight on Tyson's undercard, which is in May or maybe even April. That's two fights back-to-back against world level opponents. There's no more journeymen and no more domestic level, he's fighting top fighters from now on. He's 18-0 with 10 knockouts, so he will be fighting world ranked opponents. He's in fantastic health, weighing around 111 kilos at the moment. I expect him to strip down a bit, he has about 5% body fat to lose which is normal going into a camp. He'll fight around 10% body fat and he'll be in the best condition of his life in this fight because of the level he's fighting at. Expect to see a furious Hughie Fury when he comes out next time in his physique and everything else.”
 
There is no doubt to Peter that his own son is ready to make a statement this year.  “Hughie Fury is a phenomenal talent. He's 21 and we're already looking at top ten world ranked fighters for him and we're not talking pushovers. He's in a serious fight come March make no mistake. If he has any flaws about him he will get exposed. It's a world ranked opponent, not someone who is coming to lie down or a has-been, he's fighting a serious test who is as good as any other fighter out there. For a kid at 21 to be put in this kind of test is a testament to what he's about.”
 
Given that Peter is responsible for now the world heavyweight champion Tyson and his own son Hughie, is it a difficult task to plan fights for two boxers who although are cousins, are both individuals who have their own strengths and areas for development?  “I don't see it as difficult at all. They are two different styles and they're fighting two different fighters. I have my methods and they've worked up to now and we just go with that. It's not a problem for me with Hughie or Tyson, I seem to be able to just work out what we're going to do and it comes together as camp goes on.”
 
He tells me that Tyson will be joining the training camp in due course, once a date is confirmed for the Klitschko rematch.  For now, “he’s at home relaxing with his family”, a break that he undoubtedly deserves after a whirlwind two months.  In the past, before being acknowledged as the best heavyweight on the planet, Tyson was renowned for over indulging between camps and returning with not just his boxing to work on but his weight.  Given the added responsibility of now being the pinnacle of the sport, is that a concern now for Peter?  “He knows the damage it did to him last time, we only saw 60% of Tyson because he has had to lose five stones going into fights” he tells me.  “It has an effect on him and his body, it saps him a lot. In training camps he was struggling and that's because of the horrific weight loss in a short space of time. He's a lot more stable and I told him he needs to be no more than 19 stone, carrying eight to ten pounds of weight. Even 14 pounds is OK, for a heavyweight that's nothing. If he can maintain around a stone over his fighting weight then he's coming into a ten week camp and it's perfect, he can work on his strength and conditioning and not fat loss. When you're at the elite level and the type of training you have to do to become a world champion you have to maintain your body otherwise it will be a very short lived career.”
 
Once the camp for Tyson starts up again for what will be a multi-million pounds tear up with the Ukranian, will there be any difference to last time around or are the team ready to carry on from their success of last time?  “For us it's business as usual. There will be different strategies involved, obviously I've had a lot of time to think about it, thinking about what Klitschko will do next. I've got a good idea. When Tyson comes back we'll sit down and go through it and work the training schedule around it.”
 
One thing that stood out on that memorable night out in Germany was the style in which Tyson earned the belts.  Klitschko had seen off 11 years worth of challengers before Tyson turned up, and yet the man from Morecambe swaggered into his adopted back yard, dropped his gloves down to his knees (or even behind his back), stuck his chin in the air to be hit and taught the champion a boxing lesson.  Switching southpaw to orthodox, leaning back out of range, slick counters and a damaging jab were just some of the tools that Fury utilised that night.  It all looked…..natural.  So for uncle Peter, I asked him how much of what we saw in the ring was taught in the gym, how much is strategized around a table and how much of it Tyson was just born with.
 
“My job is to train and prepare and we go through things together. But he's the one that's got to do the hard thing. He's the boxer. First and foremost it's all down to Tyson. When that bell goes that's it, there's nothing I can do from outside the ring, there's two men in the ring, one on one. My job is to prepare him the best I can, work out strategies and define them. There's a lot that goes into it, more than these words I'm telling you now! There's a hell of a lot of serious thought goes into this process, sparring and everything that goes with it. We perfect the preparation and then it's about sticking to what you've trained for. You stick to that, cover as many angles as you can and then get in there and don't panic, stay the course and keep to what you've been working on. 
 
This is the way Tyson fights as a boxer, he boxes as his character. This is him on the big stage, this is Tyson Fury as he is, his real personality, almost taking the mickey. That's what he does, but let me tell you, he's massively effective doing that. He's not in any danger zone doing that. All these things he did in the fight, they were pre-planned. He's done nothing in that fight that wasn't pre-planned in the gym, everything is professionally gone through. Tyson, he can talk and be brash and do all of that, but when he is in training camp he is a dedicated athlete. He takes on board, he's not silly, he's highly educated and very clever. People who think Tyson is silly need to get an electric shock as he is super, super clever. He's a very good analyser as well and when we speak he has as much input as me and will say "yep, I can see that working, let's try this' and everything seems to click and work. You can only speak to someone like that who has the same intellect and intelligence to put something into practice. It's alright telling someone to do something, but it takes a special individual to jump in that boxing ring and do it, and on such a high level and do it almost to perfection. That's what he did.”
 
A special individual is undoubtedly what Tyson proved himself to be that night.  Klitschko acknowledged post fight that he found Fury hard to pin down and handle, unwilling to use his knockout right hand in fear of what was potentially coming back from Fury.  Watching it at home it was clear the Klitschko was lacking in backup plans midway through the fight, struggling to work out what Fury would do next.  Did it surprise Peter then that Klitschko was unable to unload his own attacks as often as we have seen in the past?  “It was exactly what we were expecting as Klitschko has never fought anyone like Tyson. He's never experienced it, I was looking at all the sparring partners he was getting in and nobody replicates Tyson. Everybody has DNA and it's about their genetics. Tyson is a very awkward and underestimated fighter. Well he's not now! He certainly was before going into that fight. He earned a lot of people some money I think!”
 
I am intrigued with Peter whether he sees himself as a heavyweight specialist, given that his two top fighters are either on the top or on the up in the division.  Is it just the fate that his family are relative human giants and therefore he focusses on that division, or is it the division himself that is the area of interest for him?  “It's definitely the family that drives me. It's my own family for one, Tyson and Hughie. It's your own DNA, you're together and know each other inside out. We know each other, we don't even have to speak at times. It's on family, we all ride the waves together and don't have to be falsely nice. As a family we all know what we need to do. I'm only interested in my own family, if it wasn't for Tyson and Hughie I wouldn't be in boxing. I don't need boxing. I'm only doing it because I am involved in it with them.”  So if that is the case, would Peter walk away once the careers of Tyson and Hughie come to an end?  “I will do yeah. When they're finished I'll walk away from boxing. Maybe my mind will change down the road, I don't know, but at the moment I can only say how I feel at this time.”
  
  
It would undoubtedly be a loss to the sport, but given what he has told me about the pressures of the sport and what it takes out of those involved it is understandable.  There has been fresh impetus into the Fury camp recently though as Tyson’s dad and Peter’s brother, John Fury, has finished a sentence in jail and is now fully involved in the team’s preparation.  So how is it now that John Fury, a man who was involved in the formative years of Tyson’s career, is able to be involved?  “John's my brother foremost and it's lovely to have him around, there's nobody like your own family. I'm over the moon to have John back and it's much better for Tyson to have his dad there. I think back to when I was in the camps when John was in prison and I would think that as much as I'm Tyson's uncle, I'm not his dad. Nobody takes the place of your father, you dad's your dad. I'm over the moon, one, for my brother to be with his son and two, for Tyson to be with his dad. That for me is the icing on the cake, it's all good for both Hughie and Tyson. John being out, it's a very good thing for the family, it helps on all fronts. Tyson has all of his family around now, it's good for him and it's good for me as well.”
 
There is a story in boxing that Tyson turned down large amounts of TV money while has father was in prison just so that he could continue to fight on Channel 5, and allow his dad to watch his fights on the limited TV channels available to him.  I ask Peter whether this is a true story or urban myth?  “It is true! He wanted his dad to see all of his fights and his dad never really missed any, he saw them on Channel Five. He's done quite a lot of special things Tyson while he's been a boxer. The way he stuck with Mick Hennessy, the way Mick stuck with Tyson. It's a story beyond belief as Mick said himself, when he lost the ITV deal all his boxers went running for cover and abandoned him. Tyson told him that he was happy to fight for nothing, that he'd wait and they would go forwards together. When you are loyal and good hearted, just look what can happen. I would never like anyone to say about my family that when the going got tough they jumped off the boat. Tyson stayed through thick and thin with Mick, and Mick with us. It's an honour and a privilege to look back on it to be honest.”
 
One of the other “special things” that Tyson has done was, when in full training camp for Wladimir Klitschko, he posted his own mobile phone number on Twitter and invited his fans to phone him up and ask him any questions.  It was a beyond unique idea, not done to generate money or a publicity stunt, it was something borne from a playful exchange with his wife who happened to post his number.  Being a man of his word, Tyson took the phone calls for over an hour.  Not just that, he decided that as fans enjoyed it so much he would do it on numerous occasions over the following weeks.  Do such actions worry Peter that they may distract from the preparation for Tyson?  “It's not for me to dictate what he does on anything, I can't tell him what to do. Tyson is his own man. Whatever he does outside of boxing, whoever he speaks to, it's none of my business. He does his own thing, he's a married man with children. All of what he does, all of his instant reactions both good and bad, he does them all himself. He's his own man and his own personality. He does do a lot of good stuff and as soon as he says the odd bad word everybody seems to jump all over it, especially now he's world champion.”
 
Of course, such actions as these or inviting the people of Morecambe to come and train with him in the morning as he jogged along the towns seafront do not meet the narrative of the mass media, don’t generate the same headlines as instead they choose to twist words into negatives.  Away from those headlines there has also been the issue of the world governing bodies making a farce of their belts.  The IBF stripped Tyson of his hard fought title without having defended it, citing that he had a mandatory defence to make against their contender.  A contractual rematch with Klitschko ruled Fury out of the fight, so they took their belt back.  The WBA have recently announced plans to consolidate their three world titles at heavyweight (regular, interim and super) via a strung out tournament.  Previously on Twitter Peter had clarified that the tournament wasn’t of interest to the Fury camp, so is that still the case?  “The belts?  I'm not too bothered. As far as I'm concerned, Tyson is the lineal champion, he's got a tall order ahead of himself again as he's fighting the best man in the world. Wladimir Klitschko is better than all the other heavyweights out there, he's the man at the top and it's no foregone conclusion for Tyson in the rematch. This is a serious fight, just as serious as the first one if not more severe. He's fighting the best in the world. There's a lot of people coming into boxing, doing what they're doing while their promoters promote them, but they're never going to make it. I can look at them and see they won't make it. They'll get a lot of money and then they'll walk away in the sunset and that's it. The real champion out there, Tyson's fought him and will fight him again, and that's Wladimir Klitschko. If he gets past him the second time he will cement his legacy and he will go on and he will wipe the division out. I don't see anyone in the division up and coming to be worried about at all.”
 
One heavyweight that Peter has picked out of the crowd before was the Cuban fighter Luis Ortiz.  A hulking southpaw with a solid pedigree, is he the biggest problem out there aside from Klitschko?  “I think he is the biggest threat after Klitschko. He reminds me of a throwback, of a 90's fighter. Looking at him he has all the skills, tough man, good boxer and a good fighter. Very good heavyweight. I like all of his moves, everything about the guy. He proved he can do the rounds against Jennings, kept the pressure on and it was an impressive performance. He's definitely a serious heavyweight. Don't get me wrong when I say Tyson will wipe the division out and that's a guaranteed fact. What I'm saying is with all probability he will, but in heavyweight boxing anything can go wrong. Anything can happen. People like Luis Ortiz, they're serious fighters in the heavyweight division.”
 
Peter says that with the WBA tournament and those involved “they might as well give Ortiz the WBA belt now!”.  He isn’t joking around either.  It is clear from talking to him that the team are more focussed on the big fights than the titles. If Tyson can overcome Klitschko again in their rematch there are other options for him.  There has been a high profile feud with the WBC champion Deontay Wilder, an undefeated American with a fearsome knockout record who Tyson has publically called out for a fight and vice versa.  You suspect that this route would be more preferable than taking part in a tournament to retain a title that he already owns.  Tyson Fury doesn’t need the belts to validate him, having already beaten the best in his division.  It is a stark comparison to another British title holder, IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook.  With so many other names in the division that he hasn’t been able to fight, Brook is validated in the division because of his belt, not his CV.  That isn’t the case for Fury.  I ask Peter if they would bother to go back and try to reclaim their own IBF title that was stripped from them.  His answer is not surprising.
 
“No. Belts don't mean anything to me and I know they don't mean anything to Tyson. I think the only way the IBF belt would come into play would be if they had a mega champion holding it and the public see it as a major, major fight. It's all about fighters, not the belt. I'm not interested in a promoters belt, that's what we're looking at here.”
 
Part of what validates Tyson Fury is also the achievement, the fact that he did what nobody had done in 11 years.  It is something that Peter can still look at with fresh eyes.  “Tyson beat the best of the best. He can hold his head up and be proud for the rest of his life. He will never ever repeat what he did that night in Germany. That's not to talk about winning, even if he wins 100 times after. That win and going over to Germany against all the odds in his own backyard, beating a champion of 11 years at the top. He was a young kid really, he'd only just turned 27 and he goes over there in his first world title fight and did what he did. It will never be replicated again no matter what he does.”
 
Tyson spoke before the first Klitschko fight about the possibility of retirement is he was unable to beat a boxer he labelled as an “old man”.  It is exactly what he made Klitschko look that night, not so much an insult as an observation.  So does Peter think that would still be the case if he lost the rematch?  “Only he can answer that question. I know he loves fighting and loves to box and that's it. He's ready to go again. I think Tyson is an outstanding fighter with a God gifted talent, so why would he not exhaust that talent to the best of his abilities? I actually think he will be around a long time.”
 
Peter laughs when we talk about his return to training over in Holland.  “I'm back into it, I'm relaxed and excited and regenerated. I'm back in the gym losing my 15 kilos of blubber or whatever you want to call it, my inner tube! I have a couple of tractor tyres on the gym floor, I might ditch them and get Hughie to roll me around instead! But we're back in the gym with plenty of enthusiasm and I'm looking forward to Tyson wiping out the whole division and Hughie stamping his mark in March.”
 
Peter is a people’s person.  It is a trait that is familiar with the rest of the Fury camp.  Behind the headlines in the national newspapers are a tightknit family who are respectful and humble.  There is no ego to Peter Fury despite everything that him and his family have achieved.  It can’t be easy to stay grounded when you are an integral part of the team that has achieved what no others have done.  But for Peter Fury, he sees it as “I’m only a man of flesh and blood”.  In boxing circles that flesh, blood and DNA of the Fury family are something exceptional and special.  As a person though, Peter is just the same as anyone else.  That is something that boxing fans the world over should appreciate.
 
Peter wanted to thank Applied Nutrition who help supply the Fury team with their nutritional needs.