Tyson Fury v Otto Wallin: The team behind Fury’s transformation, in body and mind

Tyson Fury and Ben Davison
Fury works out with his trainer Ben Davison at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada
Tyson Fury v Otto Wallin
Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas Date: Saturday, 14 September Ring walks: 04:00 BST approx on Sunday
BBC coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and follow text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

“Tyson is an extremist. He doesn’t have a good mood. He has an extreme high or an extreme low.”

Trainer Ben Davison knows Tyson Fury in a way few people do.

His role in the rebuilding of a former world heavyweight champion once floored by depression and subsequent weight gain has been critical.

Davison’s ring work is complemented by the strength and conditioning expertise of Kristian Blacklock who, for the first time in a four-year relationship with Fury, has had a lean fighter on his hands from the start of a training camp.

“This version now, there is no limit to what we can do,” Blacklock says.

As Fury gets ready to face Sweden’s Otto Wallin in Las Vegas on Saturday night, the two men give BBC Sport an insight into managing his mind and talk us through his punishing regime.

‘He was 60% against Wilder – he’s closer to 100% now’

Explosive movements were out of the question when Fury returned to training under Davison late in 2017, two years after his shock world-title success against Wladimir Klitschko. Likewise long runs. Both activities were too risky for a 28st man.

Davison, still only 26, faced criticism for his inexperience. But Fury took a chance on him and now their deep bond is obvious.

“I’m psychologist, trainer, friend, brother, sometimes father-son to him and sometimes he’s father-son to me,” Davison says.

“He can walk down the stairs and I can tell what mood he is in.

“If he has a deep conversation at night, he will go away and think about it, so the next day we might have to have a good-spirited morning to build him up. When you’re talking deep you don’t want to stay there with him as he’s an extremist and he will go deep, deep, deep into his thoughts.

“He doesn’t do things in half measures and I would never want to take that away from him as that is what makes him the fighter he is.”

Famously, Fury had lost 10 stone in a year by the time he fought to a draw with Deontay Wilder in December. No-one – from his own father to those in his team – felt he was fully ready for the fight.

Blacklock, who began overseeing strength and conditioning before Fury’s win over Klitschko in 2015, describes the Wilder bout as a “roll of the dice”.

Recent videos of Fury running up hills to the mountain village of Istan in Marbella show his 6ft 9in frame moving gracefully.

“I don’t think he has ever been fully loaded because he has always, always had to lose weight and he was way overweight before the Klitschko camp,” adds Blacklock.

“This time he can do anything: explosive jumps, athletic movements, no limitations. He can do things I do with a top middleweight.

“He backed himself at 60% against Wilder. He may not be 100% now – I don’t think a fighter ever is – but he is getting near that figure.”

Davison and Blacklock share WhatsApp messages with Fury’s nutritionist, ensuring his daily calorie intake aligns with his workload. Heavy training days see him take on between 4,000 and 5,000 calories.

Fury performs technical boxing work at 10am, Monday to Friday. On three evenings he will take on a tough strength and conditioning workout at night. On the other two evenings and Saturdays his non-boxing workout is a ‘blue-zone run’, designed to build endurance without pushing his heart rate beyond set limits.

“He is a routine man,” says Blacklock. “So training benefits him mentally too.

“Working on the Klitschko fight I asked him ‘what are you going to do when you win the world title?’ I thought he’d maybe say ‘have a big holiday’.

“He turned to me and said ‘I will be depressed’. I laughed it off, but he was like ‘no, it will be an anti-climax, I will be depressed’. In hindsight, he was suffering then and it got worse.”

Prioritising balance over success

If Fury is a happier, more grounded fighter now, then his attitude finds echoes in his support team.

Davison’s life has changed drastically since his appointment but, he points out, he still drives the same car, and wears free Tyson Fury-branded clothes and an old pair of trainers.

And, tellingly, no-one in the camp discusses long-term goals, openly at least.

Tyson Fury and Kristian Blacklock

But if the Fury of 2015 could beat Klitschko and the overweight fighter who returned to the ring could carry the fight to the big-hitting Wilder, the question now is how far can the lean and focused 2019 model go?

Davison and Blacklock seem very aware of prioritising balance in Fury’s life over the pressures that come with big talk and extravagant aspirations.

“You can’t look too far ahead or you’ll slip up. I think that’s what Anthony Joshua’s team did,” says Davison.

“This is the fight game. If you aren’t on the ball, you’ll get tipped upside down.”

Fury has already seen his life turned upside down. Davison, Blacklock and the wider team have somehow guided their complex charge through those dark times and back to the glitz of Las Vegas fight nights.

But it is the psychological side of that challenge that is clearly uppermost in their minds.

“If he were to have all the success in the world and go back to the mentality of a couple of years ago, the success would mean nothing to me,” says Davison.

Eli Harold, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid kneeling in protest during the American national anthem
Colin Kaepernick (centre) began kneeling for the national anthem during the 2016 season

The NFL has arranged a private workout for ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Saturday that all 32 teams are invited to attend.

“I’ve been in shape and ready for this for three years, can’t wait to see the head coaches and GMs (general managers) on Saturday,” he said.

The league has discussed possible steps with Kaepernick’s camp and decided on a workout run by scouting combine personnel and former NFL coaches.

Video of both the on-field work and interview will be made available to all 32 teams, although any teams present can hold their own interviews with Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to Super Bowl 47.

In October 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance against NFL team owners he believed were conspiring not to hire him.

The grievance was resolved in February although specific terms of the settlement, including finances, were not released.

US mass shootings: Philadelphia Union’s Alejandro Bedoya calls for end to gun violence

Alejandro Bedoya
Bedoya scored Philadelphia’s opener against DC United

Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya called on US Congress to “end gun violence” by shouting into a pitch-side microphone after scoring in his side’s 5-1 win against DC United.

“Congress, do something now. End gun violence,” said Bedoya, 32.

The United States winger scored the opener within three minutes as Philadelphia beat Wayne Rooney’s side.

Saturday’s shooting in a supermarket in El Paso, Texas, is believed to be the eighth deadliest in modern US history and the incident has renewed the debate about gun laws and the rights of gun owners in the US.

The Gun Violence Archive, which categorises mass shootings in the US as four or more people shot or killed, says there have been 251 so far this year.

President Donald Trump has said “hate has no place” in the United States,adding that “perhaps more has to be done” to prevent shootings.

“To see that happen again, it’s absurd, I am not going to sit idly and watch this stuff and not say something,” said Bedoya in a post-match interview.

“Before I’m an athlete and a soccer player, I am a human being, first. I have got kids – I can’t be the only one feeling the same way.

“Something has got to be done, it has got to the point where we have become numb to it, that is a big problem.”

Bedoya grew up in Florida near Parkland, where 17 students were killed in 2018 in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In his first game following the shooting, he wore a ‘MSD Strong’ shirt under his match kit to show support for affected families.

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September 2019