Tyson Fury is back in action this weekend, facing fellow British fighter Dillian Whyte in in what the world heavyweight champion has hinted could be his final bout.
It is the latest chapter in a career of ups and downs for the controversial boxer, who has divided his critics but proved himself to be one of the best fighters of his generation.
Fury is known as “the Gypsy King”, which has become one of boxing’s most famous nicknames and has been seen proudly emblazoned on his shorts during fights – but where does it come from?
Why is Tyson Fury called ‘The Gypsy King’?
Fury’s nickname comes from his Irish traveller heritage on both his mother and father’s sides, which he was often spoken of during his career.
In 2016, for example, the boxer declared: “I am a gypsy and that’s it. I will always be a gypsy, I’ll never change. I will always be fat and white and that’s it. I am the champion, yet I am thought of as a bum.”
His family has a strong boxing heritage, with Fury’s father John fighting bare-knuckled and unlicensed, and later as a professional, under the nickname “Gypsy” John Fury.
The 33-year-old – whose wife Paris shares his traveller heritage – is also more distantly related to two legendary bare-knuckle boxers, Uriah Burton and Bartley Gorman – both of whom were dubbed “King of the Gypsies”, inspiring Fury’s moniker.
In an interview with the BBC in 2014, Fury explained how he considers his traveller heritage a key factor in him entering the sport.
“Boxing is a key element of the travelling culture,” he said. “Before anything else, you learn how to fight.
“Whereas in other cultures little kids will kick a ball about, we’re punching hands. When we have a dispute we’re not supposed to go to the police, we’re supposed take our shirts off, go outside and sort it out with fisticuffs.
“To be a good fighting man is one of the best things you can ever be in life.”
However, after becoming world champion, the “Gypsy King” also revealed to the broadcaster that he had received increasing prejudice based on his background.
Fury said: “I get a lot more racial abuse than I ever did before. I’ve done well and people don’t like that – the quicker they can knock me off my perch the better. I expected it, because no-one wants to see a Gypsy do well.
“That doesn’t bother me because it’s what I do for a living. If I was a German, an Indian, a Chinese person, I’d still be doing what I’ve got to do to pay my bills.”
Who is Tyson Fury?
Fury – who was named by his father John after Mike Tyson – was born and raised in Wythenshawe, Manchester, and reportedly weighed just 1lb at birth after being born three months premature.
John told i that his son was so talented that he will be talked about for the next 500 years, just like Martin Luther King.
He is unbeaten in 32 fights, with a controversial draw in his first bout with Deontay Wilder the only time he hasn’t left the ring victorious.
Fury’s most famous victory up to that point came in 2015, when he stunned longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko to win the WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight titles.
However, he was forced to vacate the belts following issues with drugs, alcohol and mental health, and did not fight again for more than two years.
Most thought he was done with boxing forever, but in January 2018 he announced his intention to reapply for his licence, with his eyes set on fighting Wilder for a world title.
That fight – held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center in December 2018 – was an instant classic, ending in a much-disputed split decision tie.
They went on to face each other again in a rematch on 22 February and this time there was no doubt about the result, with Fury forcing a seventh round stoppage in a dominant display, claiming the WBC and The Ring magazine world titles in the process, which he continues to hold.
The king of controversy
After it emerged that he had failed a drugs test in 2016, Fury went on to openly discuss problems with cocaine, alcohol and depression.
In 2018 he told the Joe Rogan Experience podcast how he “wanted to die so bad” and described how once in 2016 he nearly deliberately drove his Ferrari into a bridge at 190mph.
After getting up off the canvas to draw with Wilder he said: “Everybody out there who has the same problems I’ve been suffering with, I did that for you guys.
“You know the truth, everybody out there knows I won the fight, and if I can come back from where I’ve come from, then you can do it too.”
Fury has always divided opinion, however, with a history of making deeply controversial statements, on subjects including homosexuality, women, Jewish people and abortion.
Before his title fight with Klitschko in 2015 he compared homosexuality and abortion to paedophilia, saying: “There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the Devil comes home: one of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one’s paedophilia.”
And he was accused of sexism when he said of British heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill ahead of the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, for which they were both nominated: “That’s the runner, isn’t it?
“She’s good, she’s won quite a few medals, she slaps up good as well. When she’s got a dress on she looks quite fit.”
The Whyte fight comes after Fury disowned Daniel Kinahan, the alleged crime boss who ran the boxer’s former management company and received over £3m in consultancy fees from Fury’s American promoter Bob Arum, on Sky News.