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Tyson Fury’s father who was jailed for gouging out a fellow traveller’s eye says fighting has ‘always been in our family’ and reveals how they had to ‘integrate and learn the settled people’s ways over time’


Tyson Fury‘s father, who was once jailed for gouging out a fellow Traveller’s eye in a savage feud, insisted fighting has ‘always been in our family’.

John Fury, whose son Tyson is the two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, was jailed for 11 years for the ‘cold-blooded’ 2011 attack, which left his victim half-blind. 

He was eventually released in February 2015, after serving less than half his sentence – and later said: ‘He’s lost an eye and I’ve lost five years of my life.’ 

Now, speaking out once more about his past, the former professional boxer, 59, said his family’s fearsome fighting prowess stemmed from his tough-as-nails mother, Cissy, a ‘natural southpaw’.  

‘Fighting has always been in our family – it’s our second nature,’ the 6ft 3ins bruiser – who once claimed to have won £100,000 in a bare-knuckle boxing fight – told The Sun.

It comes as the father-of-six revealed how he had to ‘integrate and learn the settled people’s ways over time’, facing discrimination as a young gypsy growing up, and would go door-to-door selling carpets from the age of seven.

John Fury, left, pictured with his his son Tyson Fury in 2006 before rising to become the two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world

John Fury, left, pictured with his his son Tyson Fury in 2006 before rising to become the two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world

John Fury, coach and father of Tyson Fury, also revealed how he had to 'integrate and learn the settled people's ways over time', facing discrimination as a young gypsy growing up (John pictured on October 12, 2023)

John Fury, coach and father of Tyson Fury, also revealed how he had to ‘integrate and learn the settled people’s ways over time’, facing discrimination as a young gypsy growing up (John pictured on October 12, 2023)

Former professional boxer John, 59, said his family's fearsome fighting prowess stemmed from his tough-as-nail mother, Cissy, a 'natural southpaw'.

Former professional boxer John, 59, said his family’s fearsome fighting prowess stemmed from his tough-as-nail mother, Cissy, a ‘natural southpaw’.

John has chronicled his eventful life in an autobiography, appropriately named ‘When Fury Takes Over’.

Tyson – current WBC world heavyweight champion – penned the book’s foreword, describing John as ‘our clan leader’.

Set to be released on Thursday, the biography chart’s John’s life from his birth in a ‘bow-top gypsy wagon’ on an Irish roadside, to becoming a Netflix reality TV star.

Born in Tuam, Galway, into a family rich in Traveller heritage, from a young age John trained as a boxer, making his professional debut in April 1987 against rugby player Adam Fogerty.

One of four boys, John is the son of Irish traveller Hughie and English Romany gypsy Patience, known as Cissy, who toured Britain in their caravan. 

Growing up was tough, with John and his family facing discrimination, being ‘stagmatised as thieves and vagabonds’, he said. 

‘Over the years we’ve had to ­integrate and learn the settled ­people’s ways,’ added Fury. 

Traveller children traditionally leave education after primary school. But John said he ‘never bothered’ with school, saying as a gypsy lad in the early seventies you ‘weren’t going to learn anything because you got battered from pillar to post’.

Instead, John’s father encouraged him to ‘learn to get your living’ by going out working from a young age, which meant ‘hawking’ – selling carpets door-to-door or surfacing roads.  

John Fury (far right) with son and Love Island star Tommy Fury (front) after he defeated social media rival Jake Paul in February 2023. Tyson Fury is pictured top left

John Fury (far right) with son and Love Island star Tommy Fury (front) after he defeated social media rival Jake Paul in February 2023. Tyson Fury is pictured top left

KSI - who went toe-to-toe with Tommy at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday, October 14 - was heard mocking the Furys during an earlier press conference

KSI – who went toe-to-toe with Tommy at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday, October 14 – was heard mocking the Furys during an earlier press conference

John's new book is set to be released later this month, documenting his life

John’s new book is set to be released later this month, documenting his life

‘I hawked at my first house when I was about seven years old,’ he recounted, adding he would often spend half-an-hour at people’s doors trying to get them to buy his goods. 

‘Half the time they bought carpets off me just to get rid of me,’ the 59-year-old told The Sun

As an adult, John became a professional boxer in a career that lasted eight years, during which time he fought in 13 bouts, winning against opponents including Michael Murray, a future British title challenger and Cesare Di Benedetto, a future Italian title challenger. 

But behind John’s skill with his fists was an explosive fury that would get him in trouble with the law on more than one occasion. 

When he was 15, he had a scrap with a man in his 30s who called him a ‘gyppo’ after John brawled with his son. 

A teenage John smashed the man ‘with a left and a right’, dropping him to the floor where Fury then ‘kicked him full in the face with the instep of my hobnail boots’. 

Later, John found himself in a Nottinghamshire borstal, where violent fights with other young offenders were a way of life. 

On one occasion, John claimed he squared up against two bullies, hitting one ‘weasel’ so hard ‘his nose shattered’.

Terrified he would have his sentence in the lock-up – which John likened to the 1979 film Scum, starring Ray Winstone – he leapt from a third-storey window to escape.

The teenager spent three years on the run, during which time he met his Traveller wife Amber, having their first child, John Boy, when Fury was 18.

John was later arrested and dragged back to a young offenders’ institute to serve the remained of his sentence. 

In 1988, Amber gave birth to Tyson Luke Fury. The future boxing superstar arrived three months premature, weighing just 1lb.

‘I could hold him in the palm of my hand. He had to be a fighter to survive,’ John told The Sun. 

'I could hold him in the palm of my hand. He had to be a fighter to survive,' said John. John is pictured with a young Tyson Fury

‘I could hold him in the palm of my hand. He had to be a fighter to survive,’ said John. John is pictured with a young Tyson Fury

John Fury has now become his son's biggest promoter - although he is not allowed to enter the US due to his criminal record

John Fury has now become his son’s biggest promoter – although he is not allowed to enter the US due to his criminal record

Fury went on to have three more children with Amber, sons Shane and Hughie and daughter Ramona, who tragically died four days after being born. 

After the couple split, John found love once more with his second wife Chantal, becoming a father to two more boys, Roman, and Love Island star Tommy – who like his bigger brother Tyson is also a boxer. 

John, a seasoned street fighter and unbeaten bareknuckle boxer, decided to try boxing professionally as an adult.

The 6ft 3in bruiser, who later helped guide his son on his way to world domination in the ring, ended his career with eight wins, four losses and one draw, saying his tactic was simple: ‘Throw a lot more punches… [and] get the job done as soon as possible’.

‘I weren’t an especially big puncher, but, once I got going, I’d not stop swinging until they were out cold,’ he said previously. 

‘I’d not come up for air. I just wanted to kill. I’d hit them with fists, elbows, head, teeth and feet until they dropped.’

Later, aged 30, John embarked on a five-year stint as an ‘enforcer’, where people would call on him to collect debts.

But in February 2011, John was jailed for 11 years for gouging the eye out of fellow Traveller Oathie Sykes in a savage fight a car auction, which proved to be the bloody end to a 12-year feud over a bottle of beer. 

Manchester Crown Court heard during his trial that the then-46-year-old declared himself the country’s toughest man before pouncing on his victim, who was left half-blind as a result of the attack. 

Fury Snr was jailed in February 2011 after being found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm

Fury Snr was jailed in February 2011 after being found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm

John was jailed for 11 years for gouging the eye out of fellow Traveller Oathie Sykes in a savage fight a car auction, which proved to be the bloody end to a 12-year feud over a bottle of beer

John was jailed for 11 years for gouging the eye out of fellow Traveller Oathie Sykes in a savage fight a car auction, which proved to be the bloody end to a 12-year feud over a bottle of beer

Fearing for his son, Tyson’s future boxing career, John wept in court as he begged for leniency. 

Speaking of the victim, he added: ‘If I could give my own eye to him to get back to my children I would do – I’m begging you for my life.’

Mr Sykes told court he believed Fury wanted to completely blind him in the attack. He added: ‘It was like he was trying to pull his finger into my brains through my socket. I was screaming, “Please stop, you’re hurting me”.

‘After that he tried to take my other eye – he tried to blind me, sir, not once he tried to blind me, twice.’

Tyson, who was trained by his father at the time, supported John from the public gallery.

Despite being Tyson’s trainer, Fury then missed crucial career-building fights before his eventual release in February 2015, just four years into his 11-year sentence.

Speaking to The Sun, John said his stint behind bars ‘didn’t bother’ him, saying he was a ‘big believer in Jesus Christ and thought ‘if this is my destiny, I’ll come out a better man’.’ 

Two months after his release, Fury saw his son Tyson becoming heavyweight champion of the world after beating Wladimir Klitschko in Germany.

He is said to have had a far more calming influence over his son since his release, and recently he has become a media pundit, advertising his son’s fights to the world. However he is unable to travel to the US due to his criminal record.

Seeking to contain his furious temper, John avoids large gatherings. But despite this, the ‘red mist’ can still descend for boxing bruiser. 

This anger came to a head in October when John was promoting the fight of his younger son, Tommy against social media star, KSI. 

Tommy was the calmest of all four fighters when the fight kicked off - which comes as no surprise considering he is used to the chaos associated with fighting YouTubers

Tommy was the calmest of all four fighters when the fight kicked off – which comes as no surprise considering he is used to the chaos associated with fighting YouTubers

John's 'red mist' was revealed once more during a press conference between his son Tommy and KSI (left) in August. John, Tommy and KSI are pictured, later, in October 12 in Manchester

John’s ‘red mist’ was revealed once more during a press conference between his son Tommy and KSI (left) in August. John, Tommy and KSI are pictured, later, in October 12 in Manchester

Tyson and Paris Fury, pictured with their children, during At Home with the Furys

Tyson and Paris Fury, pictured with their children, during At Home with the Furys

KSI, who later lost the fight to Tommy, was heard mocking the Gypsy family, promoting the furious display from Fury Snr. 

John rose from his chair and shouted ‘the Fury’s are the best fighters in the world’ to cut KSI’s business partner and fellow social media star Logan Paul off mid-way through his speech. 

John snapped during a press conference between the two fighters, flipping a table during an angry outburst. 

He continued: ‘The Fury’s dominate. We are the best men in the world. We will fight anybody in our way’.

John finished by knocking the microphones over and flipping his table before kicking KSI’s table over too.

It comes after fans received a new, calmer insight into the ex-boxer’s life with his beloved children in At Home with the Furys, an instant online hit which has shown a softer side to the notorious fighter.

Despite retiring decades ago, John has now found new fame thanks to the hit Netflix series At Home with the Furys, a documentary which follows Tyson and his family navigate the ups and downs of their celebrity lifestyle.

Speaking from Saudi Arabia – where Tyson is preparing for his fight on Saturday with Cameroonian Francis ­Ngannou – John told The Sun: ‘I wake up every morning now thinking it’s a dream. My childhood was very different to that of my kids.’

  • When Fury Takes Over, by John Fury (Macmillan, £22), is out on Thursday.

 



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