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Gym owner opens up on Tyson Fury's early days in Manchester

Tuesday February 25 2020

British boxer Tyson Fury celebrates after defeating US boxer Deontay Wilder in the seventh round during their World Boxing Council (WBC) Heavyweight Championship Title boxing match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on February 22, 2020. PHOTO | MARK RALSTON |

British boxer Tyson Fury celebrates after defeating US boxer Deontay Wilder in the seventh round during their World Boxing Council (WBC) Heavyweight Championship Title boxing match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on February 22, 2020. PHOTO | MARK RALSTON |  AFP

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By AFP
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MANCHESTER

The first time Tyson Fury walked into the Jimmy Egan Boxing Academy in Manchester aged 14 he struck trainer Steve Egan as a future heavyweight world champion.

Fury fulfilled the prediction in 2015 with a shock victory over Ukrainian legend Wladimir Klitschko and ensured he would be considered a great when he demolished American WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Egan - son of the gym's late founder Jimmy which has produced 30 amateur champions in the last 15 years -- says Fury made an immediate impression when he first walked through the doors.

"I thought he's a big lad you know. Six foot four. I thought he was about 17, 18. Apparently he was only 14!" he told AFP.

"I just watched him on the bag and thought, he's moving alright for a big kid. I went over to him and said 'what's your name?'. He said Tyson."

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Egan believed he was being sold a line by the newcomer - his first name being the surname of the once feared undisputed heavyweight world champion Mike Tyson.

In fact he was indeed named after the American.

"I thought 'yeah OK'. I thought he was having me on like, I walked away," said Egan.

"I went back after 5 or 10 minutes and I said, what's your second name and he said Fury. I couldn't believe it.

"I went to my Dad and I said 'heavyweight champ of the world'."

Fury stayed with the Egan Academy throughout a pretty successful amateur career - although dreams of an appearance at the Olympics failed to materialise either for Britain or for Ireland as the self-proclaimed 'Gypsy King' has Irish roots.

Egan made personal sacrifices himself missing his son's 21st birthday party due to being with Fury in Morocco for the 2006 amateur world championships.

Despite leaving the Egans when he pursued his professional career - he left with an amateur record of 31 wins and four defeats - there are no hard feelings and indeed photographs of him are plastered everywhere.

The club's minibus bears the strapline: 'Tyson Fury - Built by God - trained by Jimmy Egan's'.

The 31-year-old undefeated boxer has had his very dark times as he contemplated suicide having felt empty after defeating 'his Everest' in Klitschko.

He also made a sequence of highly controversial remarks about women and homosexuals.

Egan, though, says the father of five was ever thus.

"I think he's always been up and down even as a lad," said Egan.

"You know I mean sometimes they come in and say 'I'm quitting blah blah blah'.

"I'm not boxing anymore and then they come in the next day and be all up for it and you know there is a lot of tongue in cheek as well with Tyson."

Egan, though, says Fury did also have genuine moments when he thought he would not reach the top.

"He would doubt his ability sometimes," said Egan.

"You know I mean, he would spar with his brother Shane. He wouldn't do too great.

"How can I be a world champion when I can't beat a two fight novice, but Shane's really good."

For other aspiring fighters in the gym Fury serves as a template for a future inside the ring.

"Yeah it inspires you," 16-year-old Jay Warden told AFP.

"Knowing he's come from here and he's built such a good professional ranking and then the life he has had as well.

"Coming from what he was to where he is now it's just amazing and very inspirational.

"Especially knowing that he's come from here."

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