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Conquering Inner Battles: Tyson Fury Outside of the Boxing Ring

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Image Credit: Ben Stansall AFP

Tyson Fury was born seven weeks premature. He weighed 1 pound and was born the size of his father’s hand. Doctors gave him little chance of survival, but Tyson’s father, John had other ideas. John predicted that one day Tyson would be Heavyweight World Champion and at the hospital, named his son after boxing legend Mike Tyson.

Growing up in Manchester, England, Tyson Fury doesn’t remember a life before boxing. He started boxing at a young age because of the constant bullying and torment others gave him; the many reasons why individuals take up boxing. As the years progressed, Tyson reached a height of 6 ft 9 and became one of the most dangerous heavyweight boxers in the world.

This article highlights the importance of conquering our inner battles through Tyson Fury’s actions and delves into what it takes to overcome mental battles to find a purpose and achieve what we all strive for; happiness.

“Exterior assets mean nothing if you can’t control what’s going on inside.” – Tyson Fury

The Empty Feeling Of Achievement

In 2015, Tyson was training and preparing for the biggest fight of his career against Wladimir Klitschko. It was revealed after the fight, Tyson had been struggling mentally and didn’t know how to overcome his battles. Even though he won, there was no sense of achievement. The belts, money, and success meant nothing to Tyson. He knew he would feel this way before even stepping into that ring.

Before the fight, Tyson said to his father “If I win this fight, I’ll probably never box again”. Even before the fight, there was no flame and Tyson still didn’t want to box. He had had enough. He expected more in life and wanted boxing to feel different. The value and achievement were gone.

After beating Klitschko, a rematch was on offer and it appeared the two would fight again. In a lead-up media conference, Tyson said, “I can do my best and that’s it. Win, lose or draw I put on my best fight. And if Wladimir beats me then good luck to him and I shake his hand and say he’s the better man. And obviously, if I beat him I’m in the same position. Still as sick as ever, still as depressed as life can be and still don’t really care for dying any second of the moment. That’s the way I live my life.

Not long after the press conference, Tyson had tested positive to cocaine and had his boxing license suspended, unable to compete. It was from then, Tysons life spiralled and he pushed away everyone close to him. He was out of boxing for 2 and a half years.

Tyson faced confronting battles that could at any moment end his life. He drove his Ferrari 190mph towards a bridge to end his life, tried to drink himself to death and ate and drank his way to obesity, ballooning out to 175kg (385 lbs). His wife and kids were the only thing that saved him before he was able to come to terms with overcoming his mental battles.

Here are 4 Ways To Conquer Our Inner Battles:

1. Reflection & Mindset

What we can all learn is that reflecting on the past and changing your mindset can be a good thing. By building a habit of introspection in our lives, we uncover more about ourselves, our values and our mindset starts to change about what’s important to us. It helps bring control and decision making back to within ourselves. The moment Tyson Fury decided to change his mindset was after being in a dark place, understanding his family was the most important thing to him. It helped him gain back control and his mind started to change.

2. Gratitude

It’s scientifically proven that showing gratitude makes you happier. Gratitude is appreciating something we have as opposed to reaching something new in the hope it will make us happier. When we use gratitude regularly, our mental state grows. Ways to show gratitude can be; write a thank you note, pay it forward, offer support, meditate or share your skills. Tyson shows gratitude by counting his blessings, donating to charity and being thankful. This has helped him become much more of a mentally strong individual. At the end of his fights, he uses his platform to express gratitude to all those who have helped him.

3. Change Your Routine

Routine can have negative connotations to it. We can think of them as tedious, boring and unfulfilled. By changing our mindset, we can establish a routine as a positive force and become happier because of it. If you’re finding yourself unhappy, change up your routine. Try different things. Whether it’s exercising, nurturing relationships or eating healthy, the smallest changes make the biggest difference.

In an interview with GQ magazine, Tyson Fury mentioned he found solace in ‘training, eating, sleeping and repeating’. He said, “I’m fantastic at the moment. I stress this a lot: It’s all got to do with routine, giving yourself short-term goals”. When it comes to your routine, try something you enjoy doing and repeat. You’ll find yourself a happier and more mentally strong person because of it.

4. Have A Purpose

Human beings desire purpose. A Purpose is a fundamental component of living a satisfied life. When you have a purpose, you never wake up wondering what you’re going to do or what’s in store for the day. You become naturally less stressed and life becomes less complicated.

“Instead of consciously thinking about your purpose, you can try an indirect approach. Just realise that your purpose is inside of you, it’s just afraid to expose itself. You must trust that someday it will seemingly appear out of nowhere. When that day comes, make a happy dance, celebrate, whatever, but the next day, wake up and start working on your purpose” – Darius Foroux

After the Klitschko fight, Tyson felt he didn’t have a purpose. He had achieved everything in becoming the heavyweight champion. When the boxing was gone, there was nowhere he felt he could go. He tried golf, clay pigeon shooting, off-road driving but nothing interested him. Tyson also wasn’t training, which was something he had done every day since he was a child.

Eventually, he found purpose In relationships and faith. He turned his life around by understanding what drove him to happiness. Putting his purpose to action was how he became a healthier, more mentally strong person. It’s how he conquered his inner battles.

The Influence On Society

The influence on society is apparent. Tyson receives thousands of messages daily on social media with personal stories of individuals giving thanks on overcoming their inner battles. He’s an official ambassador for mental health in sport, does public speaking and is extremely open about struggles he has faced.

The man who thought he would be dead and the man everyone thought would never box again, has overcome the mental mindset that was derailing him. He is still recognised as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of this generation and uses his struggles to help others.

Blake is a writer, reader, sports lover and creator of blakedevos.com. He shares his thoughts through writing on Productivity, Healthy Habits, Athlete Inspiration and Health + Fitness. When he's not writing and reading,  he is boxing or socialising. You can take part in his 5 Day Habit Challenge here.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Stacey Wessendorf

    Jul 30, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    Way cool, some valid points! I appreciate you making this article available, the rest of the site is also high quality.

  2. Anthony Roe

    Jun 25, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Great article on an inspiring champion

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Life

5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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The Problem Is Not Actually the Problem: Here’s Why

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With my understanding of the Three Principles, which is deepening month-by-month, I’m becoming more curious about whether the ‘problem’ that we think we have, is really a problem. Not for one second am I dismissing a persons’ experience; I’m human after all and I encounter challenges and what I think are ‘problems’ just like the next person. (more…)

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Life

5 Things You Can Do to Fend off Boredom and Stay Focused

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Curiosity is human nature and it’s only natural that humans will lose interest in a topic after a while. This has been a topic that has been extensively explored among children, teenagers and adults by a psychologist with similar results being reported from each of the categories. Human’s minds are therefore prone to boredom, making it important for each professional to spend some time to understand the factors that drive boredom and strategies the individuals needs to use to overcome boredom and focus on their profession and development. (more…)

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