In the second part of our interview with Morecambe heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury’s wife Paris, AASMA DAY discovers that Tyson’s biggest fight is outside the ring.
Often labelled a loudmouth, boxer Tyson Fury never seems short of anything to say and to the rest of the world, he seems upbeat and confident.
But wife Paris reveals there is a darker side to her husband’s personality as he is plagued with bouts of depression and has even talked about ending it all in his bleakest moments. Paris, 23, who lives with Tyson and their two children Venezuela, three and Prince, one, at their home in Morecambe, explains: “Tyson is always a perky person for the rest of the world, but I have to deal with his dark side when he is on a downward spiral.
“Depression seems to run in Tyson’s family and he and his brothers have a very depressed and jaded attitude to life.
“Tyson has a bit of a split personality anyway. He is not loud and brash when he is at home. He is just normal.
“He grew up watching Muhammad Ali and he knows that if he doesn’t open his mouth, no-one else is going to do it for him.”
Paris confesses she finds it difficult to get her head around depression and admits her reaction to Tyson’s suicidal talk is sometimes far from sympathetic.
“For about six months, Tyson’s depression got really bad and he was sick of life and kept saying ‘what’s the point of it all’.
“He would try to explain that he would have moments when he felt like ending it all even though there was nothing particularly wrong.
“Sometimes, he would be perfectly fine and happy and the next moment, he would say he felt like getting in his car and driving it into a wall at 100 miles an hour.
“I find depression really hard to understand as I have always been very appreciative of life.
“I tried being nice, but there were times when I would lose patience and snap: ‘Well go and do it then!’ when he talked about ending it all.
“He went through a real down period where he would go out drinking till late and there was one occasion when he disappeared and I did not know where he was and became really worried as he sent me a disturbing text message.
“I think depression is something that affects a lot of boxers. Maybe the fighting and desire to win triggers off some sort of darkness?
“I do think a lot of people who are in the limelight experience massive highs and lows.
“I think Tyson’s depressive periods were a result of him having too much, too quickly.
“I would tell him he should appreciate what he had as I myself am grateful for everything in our lives.
“We are very blessed. We are both so young – I am 23 and Tyson has just turned 25 – and we have things in our life that some people work a lifetime for and still never get.
“Tyson is so lucky as he has a talent very few people have and he is almost the heavyweight champion of the world.
“He has achieved so much, but during that time in his life, he did not appreciate the good things.”
Ironically, Paris believes it was the agonising time they endured after son Prince almost died after being struck with bronchiolitis and pneumonia that has almost “cured” Tyson of his depression.
Paris recalls: “When Prince was just six-weeks-old, he became really ill and was battling for life in hospital.
“He became so poorly that he stopped breathing three times. He deteriorated so much, he was moved to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and doctors put him into an induced coma and the machines were breathing for him.
“It was a horrible time. When Tyson first came to the hospital, he was shocked as all he could see was a tiny Prince with all these tubes coming out of him.
“At one point, the doctors told us Prince only had a slim chance of survival.
“I think it was the first time in my life I saw Tyson frightened.”
Fortunately, Prince pulled through and Paris says Tyson’s depression has been a lot better ever since.
“When Prince got ill, it seemed to almost cure Tyson of his depression.
“I think it showed him what a problem really was.
“Tyson still has the odd few days when he is really down, but it is nothing like it was before.
“He seems to appreciate life a lot more now and I try and make him see all we have in life that is good.”
After Prince’s recovery, Tyson and Paris bought their two bedroom bungalow in Morecambe.
Paris says: “We bought this house because it was fully decorated and we just wanted something we could move straight into after Prince’s illness.”
Gazing around the Furys’ living room, it looks like any other household with young children. There are toys scattered everywhere, biscuit crumbs on the floor and Prince is wandering around in just a nappy as it is a warm morning.
Paris, who looks effortlessly beautiful, clearly adores her children and she rolls her eyes in fond exasperation as Venezuela puts on a pair of orange arm bands and a rubber ring in anticipation of going swimming later that day.
“It’s a good job the carpet is brown!” she jokes as Prince knocks over a glass of orange juice.
So what is Tyson like as a dad?
“He’s great.” Paris enthuses immediately. “He loves our children and misses them like mad when he is away.
“When he is home, he likes to make the most of time with them and enjoys taking them to the park and out on their bikes.
“Tyson is a real quiet man at home who just likes doing things with his family.
“He is just a normal guy when he’s not in the boxing limelight and he loves doing things like messing with old cars and going off-roading and shooting with his mates.
“When the two of us get time together without the children, we go on ‘dates’ and he plans something nice and romantic.
“Once, after a fight I did not go to, he booked a hotel for the two of us and filled the room with rose petals and candles and put on a CD of Boyz II Men.
“He can be unbelievably romantic when he wants to be.
“When we’re alone, we don’t talk about boxing – we are just a normal couple.
“We love watching films and going to the cinema. However, when Tyson is training for a fight, we don’t tend to go much as he is on a diet and eating special food so tries to avoid the temptation of popcorn and sweets.
“So we watch a lot of movies at home and have a 52 inch plasma TV in our bedroom.
“We both have similar tastes and our favourite films include Troy, The Notebook, Gladiator and The Quiet Man.
“It is our way of unwinding.”
Although fame has highlights such as parties and premieres, Paris says there are downsides – including crazy fans and abuse through social networking sites.
Paris explains: “We have started getting some really crazy fans who are almost stalking Tyson!
“I was once home by myself with the children when someone started knocking on the door at 1am. When I opened it, I found an older woman who wanted Tyson’s autograph.
“We get people going through our bins trying to find things and Tyson gets obscene messages from fans asking him to send them his underwear!
“We also get a lot of abuse through Facebook and Twitter. About half of it is boxing propaganda, especially before a fight.
“However, the other half is racist and directed at our gypsy background.
“We get called pikeys, gyppos and scum and our children get called ‘mongrels’.
“We take the abuse with a pinch of salt and Tyson takes it on the chin.
“But when they start on me and the children, I don’t like that as what have we ever done? Some people think they have the right to make judgements about you.
“But I would never judge anyone.”
While many dads want their sons to follow in their footsteps, perversely, Tyson would sooner Prince became a lawyer.
However, he has expressed a desire to see daughter Venezuela become a female boxer.
Paris says: “Tyson wants Prince to get a really good education as this has not happened on either side of the family. Tyson says boxing is a very hard sport and wants Prince to become a lawyer.
“However, he wants Venezuela to box as he says women boxers can rank really high as long as they can do something.
“He wants Venezuela to be the next Laila Ali like Muhammad Ali’s daughter.
“But I am resistant to the idea as I cannot imagine watching my little girl getting punched and coming home with a broken nose.
“I would sooner Venezuela did a more feminine sport than boxing like tennis or ballet.”