Tuesday 20 March 2018

'Tyson Fury is an example of Irish social history'

Tyson Fury holds his belts during a homecoming event at the Macron Stadium, Bolton.
Tyson Fury holds his belts during a homecoming event at the Macron Stadium, Bolton.

Bernard O'Neill

Tyson Fury is a product of Irish social history, according to former Irish Elite champion Mel Christle, President of the Boxing Union of Ireland (BUI).

And the BUI chief, a Senior Barrister, reckons that the iconic song by Morrissey “Irish Heart, English Blood” addresses that history and maybe even sums up Fury himself.

Christle also revealed that Tom Lee, father of Limerick southpaw and Irish Olympian Andy Lee, the current WBO World middleweight champion and a cousin of Fury, helped prove that Fury was Irish.

Fury, who boxed for Ireland in the amateur ranks, sensationally claimed the World heavyweight crown on a unanimous decision over defending champion Wladimir Klitschko in Germany on Saturday night.

The victory arrived three years after he stopped Martin Rogan for the vacant Irish heavyweight pro title in Belfast. The were question marks over Fury’s eligibility to fight for an Irish belt because proof could not be found of his Irish ancestry.

In 2008, before turning pro, Fury, despite the fact that he had boxed for Ireland against Poland and the USA, wasn’t allowed enter the Irish Elite Championships after the Holy Trinity BC in Belfast objected because he had no proof of birth in Ireland.

A few months after he beat Rogan, Fury, whose father Johnny insists he was born in Galway, was stripped of his Irish belt after he took out a British Boxing Board of Control licence to fight Vinny Maddalone in England.

“Maybe the Morrissey song does sum it up,” said Christle. “Tyson is an example of Irish social history where someone whose forebears came from Ireland and settled in England.

“He has a gra for Ireland, but the reality is that his life, his wife and his children are based in England. He did prove to us that he was Irish to fight for the Irish title a few years ago.

“That evidence was proven to us by witnesses in Belfast, one of whom included Andy Lee’s father, a very pleasant gentleman. What an extraordinary achievement to win the world title.

“It’s the biggest individual prize in sport. Here at the Boxing Union of Ireland we are absolutely delighted for him and lets hope he defends the belt successfully now.”

The singer Morrissey, meanwhile, released “Irish Heart English Blood” in 2004 to critical acclaim.

The song reflects on his Irish and English heritage.

“Irish blood, English heart, this I'm made of. There is no one on earth I'm afraid of,” is one of the lines in the song”, sentiments that Fury would no doubt endorse.


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