The Wrestler, Tyson Fury

By Robert Ecksel on October 12, 2019
The Wrestler, Tyson Fury
Top Rank’s Bob Arum set the stage for the upcoming “very unique event.” (Getty Images)

There must something to wrestling. If it were totally fake, fewer wrestlers would end up disabled and die before their time…

Boxing and wrestling have always had a curious relationship. Comparisons don’t come easily, as their differences exceed their similarities, but there are enough crossover elements for fans of one to sometimes be fans of the other, depending on their expectations, tastes, and the extent of their arrested development.

To the surprise of no one, former unified heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is a big fan of wrestling. Not the old-timey Greco-Roman stuff, where a couple of guys grapple on a mat to establish their superiority, but wrestling of the WWE flash-bang-boom variety, which took the world by storm many years ago and eventually added T&A, steroids, and unsophisticated narratives where good and evil go head-to-head for the delectation of its fans.

But there must something to wrestling. If it were totally fake, fewer wrestlers would end up disabled and die before their time.

On October 31 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Fury will make his wrestling debut in a WWE “Crown Jewel” pay-per-view event against someone named Braun Strowman. Stroman has a big beard and big body and describes himself as a “monster among men.” Some of us might consider wrestling a step down from the rigors of boxing, but the money is exceptional, especially by theatrical standards, and it can be had without getting cut or dropped flat on one’s back by a man who can punch.

Other fighters in the past have wrestled; some legitimately before they began boxing, some when they were down on their luck and had no other choice, and some for the hell of it and easy money. Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Joe Louis, Mike Tyson, Jersey Joe Walcott, Buster Douglas, Butterbean, Chuck Wepner, and Roberto Duran partook of the “sport,” and most of them were none the worse for wear when all was said done.

Fury’s co-promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum, set the stage for the upcoming “very, very unique event” at Friday’s press conference to announce the wrestling match.

“I go back a long way with WWE,” Arum said. “In 1974, I met a then-29-year-old Vincent Kennedy McMahon and together we promoted the Evel Knievel jump over the Snake River Canyon,” which was one of the biggest boondoggles of its day. “It was a long time ago, but since then, I’m so proud that Vince has built a company, WWE, that’s a worldwide brand, the biggest worldwide entertainment company in the world, that entertains people all over the world. It’s truly remarkable. And also remarkable is the lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, ‘The Gypsy King.’ He’s not only a great fighter. He reminds me of Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. He’s the consummate heavyweight. He entertains in the ring, and he is a tremendous personality. He is a real showman—and that’s why people love him. They know that he fights with his heart on his sleeve. And even though he has a big cut over his eye and blood streaming down his face so he can’t really see, he carries on to victory.”

With ear-splitting music accompanying his entrance, Fury, who described himself as a “lifelong WWE fan,” stepped to the podium and said, “It is something I have always dreamed of. I am undefeated in 30 professional contests and when I go to Saudi Arabia to fight Braun Strowman, I will still be undefeated. I am going there to knock Braun Strowman out.”

Fury had been flirting with WWE in recent weeks, putting in an appearance at Smackdown, followed by an appearance on Monday Night Raw, to initiate a fake feud with Strowman. Fury was, as expected, as confident as ever, saying, “I fear no man. I am going to knock Strowman out.”

Strowman wasn’t buying it (that’s for wrestling and/or Fury fans to do) and said, “Tyson heed my warning. In the WWE, we don’t wear gloves,” before adding, “You are climbing into my world. You are a household name and when these hands put you down for good, the whole world will remember who the monster among men Braun Strowman is.”

Presumably, this is a one-off. If a second fight with Deontay Wilder fails to materialize, maybe a recording contract is next. Fury can sing a dozen of his favorite tunes on an album titled, if I may be so bold, The Gypsy King’s Greatest Hits.

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  1. They Call Me Fredo 07:45am, 10/15/2019

    I would say that the 3 MOST popular names in the Seventies were without a doubt,  Evel Knievel, Muhammad Ali, and Elvis in no particular order. It’s a little early but I will make a toast to the worlds most famous daredevil and down a shot of Knievel’s favorite “drank” of Wild Turkey. Salute, breh. Not my brand but the Turkey definitely warms up the innards.

  2. They Call Me Fredo 07:33am, 10/15/2019

    Was Mickey Rourke better at playing a wrestler or a boxer? Rourke’s boxing career,  especially his last “fight”, was even less believable than the WWE scripts. Maybe Vinny Mac could work the Irish and boxing angle and get Rourke involved in this gig with Fury, seeing as how Rourke is of Irish descent, he had a brief “boxing career,” played a wrestler on the big screen, and was a big supporter of the IRA back in the day (at least that it was said during some stories surrounding the actor, but we all know how THEY LIE.) Vinny Mac, call me, baby.

  3. They Call Me Fredo 10:09am, 10/13/2019

    Thrash…A scant few of those old school rasslers from those days were indeed ex-athletes. I know Ernie Ladd and Dick The Bruiser played in the NFL before becoming “entertainers.” Ken Patera, who wrestled in the 70’s and 80’s, was an ELITE Olympic weightlifter, and I think the first human to press 500lbs overhead when the press was included in Olympic lifting. For those who don’t think Olympic lifting is that much of an athletic skill consider that most of these guys have vertical jumps off the charts and can broad jump much further than NFL players. Mark Henry, a modern rassler,  was also an elite powerlifter and Olympic lifter and could dunk a basketball despite being HUGE as hell. I would bet you a steak dinner that Fury, all 6’9”, can’t dunk a basketball.

  4. Thrashem 09:48am, 10/13/2019

    Yes, today they are athletes but yesteryear 50’, 60’s, 70’s…No! They were entertainers, no.1
    If Fury lands on his head, will anyone notice the change???

  5. They Call Me Fredo 08:23am, 10/13/2019

    Drug abuse in the form of prescription drugs or recreational drugs, alcohol,  a grinding schedule, and injuries all take their toll on these guys. Ken Shamrock said that his body took more abuse from pro wrestling than it did in his MMA career. Sure, the shit is fake, but the injuries that a lot of these guys suffer while working their scripted matches are very real. So many of these guys have died early deaths. I will never forget when Undertaker threw Mankind off the top of a cage onto a table below. That shit could have ended ugly. Brave matafacha to even attempt something like that. All the respect in the world to these “sports entertainment” athletes.

  6. Thrashem 07:37am, 10/13/2019

    Another, waste of time! The lunatic fringe eats this up, not me.
    Fury fits in perfectly, this is where his talent lies.

  7. They Call Me Fredo 06:58am, 10/13/2019

    I have an idea for Vinny Mac. This event would be the PPV event that would CRUSH every single PPV in the history of the world. Bring back Donald J. Trump to the WWE and have Trump and Don Jr. go up against Joe Biden and “Where’s Hunter” Biden. The losing team instead of shaving their hair, (not much to shave in Biden’s case) has to literally “kiss Barack Obama’s ass” in the ring. Ric Flair, the only man who is better behind the mic than Trump, could be in the Trump corner with good ole Booker T and “Corn Pop” backing the Biden team. Vinny Mac, call me, and lets put this thing together, baby.

  8. They Call Me Fredo 06:47am, 10/13/2019

    I believe Carnera and Tony Galento actually “rassled” each other after their boxing careers were over as well. That video must be harder to find or obtain than the Jerry Quarry vs. Buster Mathis or the Dick Tiger vs. Frankie DePaula fights. Haven’t watched SCRIPTED wrestling since the turn of the century and hadn’t even heard about this event until now. I’m thinking McMahon and whole rasslin’ bidness should kiss Sly Stallone’s ass. Sure, pro wrestling did well, but it was Hulk Hogan’s appearance in Rocky III that set off in what I would call the Golden Age Of Pro Wrestling from 1983-1999.  By the way, Leon Spinks “lost” to Inoki later on and Scott Ledoux did a bid in the old AWA after retiring from boxing. I have to agree with Debbie Harry, a HUGE rasslin” fan as well as the former lead singer of the 70’s & 80’s rock group, Blondie and say that the old NWA/WCW put out a superior product and was a better organization than the WWWF/WWE. The WCW brand was kicking McMahon’s arse in the late 90’s until Vince brought out the T&A. Boy, they had some fine looking ladies in the 90’s era of WWE. That Trish Stratus was one fine POA. Oh Yeah.

  9. Lucas McCain 04:17am, 10/13/2019

    Kid Blast—the three guys can go on the road after this as Z.Z. Bottom

  10. Kid Blast 05:25pm, 10/12/2019

    Good to see a former “Strongman” doing some good. This monster was and is very strong. I have seen him compete at the Arnold’s. He also is very big at about 370 pounds.

    It’s all fixed but it’s showbiz.

  11. Lucas McCain 05:24pm, 10/12/2019

    One assumes the rules include hands off the healing eye scar tissue!

    Nice to see the Rocca-Carnera bout here, though I’ve watched it on Youtube often enough.  For the sake of Rocca, not Carnera—he was a great performer.  Not much of a wrestler as the resentful Lou Thesz was quick to point out, but one of the most graceful, fluid athletes in I’ve ever seen, real or fake.  As I recall, the Carnera bout wasn’t one of his best, but I’ll probably watch it again anyway for old times’ sake!

  12. Your Name 01:29pm, 10/12/2019

    Freak show