On October 4, as WWE was premiering SmackDown on FOX, a plethora of stars had been invited to attend the show. Tyson Fury was one of them. The British-born lineal boxing World Heavyweight Champion has been a wrestling fan since he was a kid. As he was enjoying the show with his family, and Braun Strowman was in the ring, involved in an 8-Man Tag match, he noticed Fury at ringside and tried to get his hands on him. Fans understood, pretty quickly, something was in the making.
In fact, Tyson Fury has been one of these sports stars WWE have been targeting for a very long time. It was the perfect moment for Fury to make his wrestling debut as WWE are on their way for a new gigantic show in Saudi Arabia. This Thursday, in Riyadh, after a few weeks of teasing and sneak attacks, Tyson Fury and Braun Strowman will finally square off at Crown Jewel. And for sure, someone will get KO’d that night.
We had the chance to be a part of a media call with Tyson Fury. He talked about his upcoming match, training to become a wrestler, the common points and differences between boxing and wrestling, and what the future holds for him, whatever the ring is.
Fury’s first-ever wrestling match:
The tension between Strowman and Fury has been increasing with each passing week. Since October 4, every time they have crossed paths, it has become a brawl. Very recently, Braun Strowman even went to WWE Performance Center to viciously attack his future opponent. When asked about the ankle injury he has been struggling with since this attack and how it could affect the match, Fury replied, “The ankle injury, I’m recovering from it. It was a few days ago. It’s going to be fine by the time the fight comes around. I don’t think it’s going to alter my performance at Crown Jewel.” Fury is aware of the risks and how an injury right now could affect his second encounter with Deontay Wilder next year in a boxing ring, “There’s always a risk of injury in the elements, so who knows what it’s going to be like after the fight? We’ll have to wait and see.”
In September, when he boxed Otto Wallin, Fury suffered a serious cut above his right eye in the third round, as well as a cut over his right eyelid from an accidental clash of heads in the fifth which affected his vision for the rest of the fight. If a ringside doctor allowed him to continue the match, Fury knew the cuts were deep, and he now had to protect his eyes from any other shot. But, in this wrestling context, he thinks he could make an asset of it, “If I’m cut open again, I’m going to get a handful of blood in Braun’s eyes and blind him as a finishing move.”
When asked about the reactions of his boxing promoter, who was definitely upset seeing him perform in the wrestling ring, Fury made it clear, “I tried to call him, he didn’t answer the phone. Yes, he’s upset his asset is going to get murdered in this wrestling context.” When it comes to his fans from boxing, no one seems upset, “I’ve got quite a great reception from all the fans, from wrestling, boxing, and beyond. It’s been good, I’ve not heard any negative stuff going on, so if it’s good – so far so good.”
As mentioned earlier, Strowman vs. Fury will take place at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia. A country surrounded by controversy. For Fury, wrestling there, has a very different meaning. “I’m just a fighter. I’m the one who’s trying to get involved in change in a country. Hopefully, you got to be involved in a change for it to evolve. So that’s why I’m going over there.”
When asked about Mansoor wrestling in his own country, he’s 100% behind him. “I think he’s doing really well. I think he could be a good champion. He’s a very entertaining guy. At Crown Jewel, he’s fighting Cesaro. I believe that’s a guy I knocked out on TV when he was trying to get my face. I hit him with a right hand and a left hook, and it was a good night for him, so go Mansoor.”
Training to become a wrestler:
Currently, Tyson Fury is preparing for his match at WWE Performance Center. He is working with British wrestling legend Johnny Moss who stated how impressed he was by his “student” and his progression. Fury seems to feel good with WWE. “They’ve all been very welcoming – from Vince (McMahon) to Triple H, to all the wrestling guys and girls. It’s a huge family and a very friendly community. Everyone there does more than enough to make you happy and make sure everything’s perfect. It’s the most professional company I think I’ve worked with for a long time.”
Even if he had the chance to train and work in some of the greatest boxing facilities in the world, WWE PC blew his mind. “It’s an unbelievable facility. One of the best facilities in the world for training. I just wish there were more facilities like that in boxing, to make young fighters become great professionals. I think you need more training facilities like that.”
Boxing and wrestling are two very different sports, and of course, they have two different ways of training. “It’s very, very different. The training is different. The preparation is different, much more physical for the wrestling, all the flipping about and smashing the ropes and canvases. Wrestling’s a very different sport.” As a wrestling fan, Fury knew what it was going to be like before he went there.
We were interested to know if there were any skills he would be able to transfer from boxing to wrestling. “I can transfer footwork, agility, and the punches,” he said. But the similarities between wrestling and boxing are larger than skills. “I think (wrestling has) a lot of similarities with the entertainment factor, the fitness, and the athleticism of boxing. But it’s a totally different game. It’s like snooker and golf, totally different.”
He added, “Physically and mentally, it’s the same because you’re preparing for a fight. You have to be in fantastic shape to compete in boxing and WWE. Mentally, you have to have a mental attitude where you wanted to get up and go. It’s the same in boxing. Get up, go, and fight anybody at any given moment of time.”
Many boxers made it before him, think Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali. When asked about what makes all these boxers go for this experience, he explained the wrestling matches are “lifetime experiences. Our point on the show, we’re entertainers at the highest levels, so it’s entertaining too as most as possible around the world.”
In spite of that, Fury confessed, “I didn’t know how hard it was. Before I just watched WWE on TV, but now I’ve been involved, I know how hard it is to be a wrestler. It’s very difficult. There’s a lot of action you have to take in the ring.”
The Wrestling Fan, the Boxing Legend, and what the future holds for both of them:
Tyson Fury has been a wrestling fan since he was very young, “There have been so many different moments over the years that made me a fan. I’ve been a wrestling fan for a long time.” Who is his favourite wrestler? “Stone Cold Steve Austin. He was a great entertainer. He was involved in so many great fights. He’s a Legend in the game.” Wrestling Strowman, for him, is a gesture to his son, who is also a wrestling fan and whose idol is Strowman.
Outside of a ring, Fury defines himself as “a loving husband, father, brother, and soul, all those mixed into one. There’s a totally different life between Tyson Fury, the entertainer, and Tyson Fury, the family man.” He is a firm defender of his sport. Mostly amateur boxing, “I think it’s very important that amateur boxing continues otherwise there will be no professional World Champions for the future.” For everything he went through in the past, he’s a pretty loud advocate of mental health issues, “Being a high-profile sports personality, I talk about mental health, and it inspires people. I can reach more people than the average person will be able to.”
When it comes to Fury, the entertainer, he has no plans to wrestle another match after Crown Jewel, even if “you might see another appearance after this one. If I was to continue, I would want to fight Brock Lesnar.” When asked about Conor McGregor, he said he would welcome him in WWE, and why not, they could be “a dream team tag team.”
Before his career is over and he hangs up his gloves for good, Tyson Fury has a lot of projects in mind. His next goal is his rematch against Deontay Wilder, set in early 2020, and all the boxing matches that will come after, may it be against Ortiz, Ruiz, or Joshua. “I’m the Prize Fighter. I’m here to fight.” He could soon reach the Octagon as Fury has decided to fight in MMA, “I’m willing to fight in UFC very soon. Maybe next year.”
Triple H gave him the advice to be himself and enjoy it. Something Fury is thankful for. “I think that’s great advice that anyone can be given in any work or job they do because if you’re not being yourself, and you’re not enjoying it, then you’re in the wrong environment for sure. That’s great advice I will try to keep while going on. Find who you are and own it.” Wherever his next match will be, in a boxing ring, a wrestling ring, an octagon, this piece of advice is one of the many things he could keep from his WWE experience and bring with him wherever and whenever he competes again.
WWE Crown Jewel is streaming live on WWE Network on Thursday, October 31, at 1 PM ET/ 5 PM GMT.
All pics and videos courtesy of WWE