Gypsy King boxer Tyson Fury made an epic comeback after depression led him to his darkest moments and his weight ballooned to 28 stone.
With the help of his trainer Kristian Blacklock, who he affectionately calls Old Baldy Head, he shed 10st, escaped the depths of depression and went on to become world heavyweight champion for a second time.
Now in his new book, The Furious Method, exclusively serialised in the Sunday Mirror, he explains how exercise and positive thinking can help transform your life, too.
Within a month of being crowned world heavyweight champ, I was an emotional wreck on my way to a heart attack, thanks to a diet of Class-A drugs, junk food and alcohol.
I had my epiphany in a pub on Halloween night in 2017, hopelessly overweight and humiliated, wearing a skeleton outfit that was skin-tight and emphasised my full 28st.
Although I had started training again, I was still drinking and going on benders and making life a misery for my wife, my children and those who were closest to me.
Looking around the pub at people half my age I felt like a disgrace, and I knew things had to change.
I left the pub early for a change and later that night I stood in my bedroom in my underpants, fell on my knees and cried out to God to help me.
When I got back up, I knew the comeback was on because I was finally asking for God’s help and being honest that I had a serious problem.
My mental health and marriage were both hanging by a thread. Everything I previously despised – including drugs – I now did; that’s how much I had come to loathe myself.
Until then I’d never taken my eyes off being a decent father to my kids, nor had I taken cocaine, and yet here I was keeping the cartels of Colombia afloat.
I appreciate not everyone will share the same desire to get into the ring and knock ten bells out of someone.
But I believe the building blocks of my successful comeback over depression and weight issues to become heavyweight champion of the world once again can be useful for anyone.
Remember, I look like an average Joe: bald and a bit fat around the midriff.
In the depths of depression I was suicidal and 28st.
But with the support of family and friends, and by seeking professional help and focusing on a positive outlook, I got healthy in body and mind.
I hope you haven’t been through what I have, but I do hope the challenges I have overcome will resonate.
Quality of thinking informs everything we do.
Being a fat, lazy bum with millions in the bank is no way to live, but being hungry, fit and really alive in the middle of life’s journey – now that’s a thing worth fighting for!
In future we might remember this period of quarantine as a time the world stood still and gave us a chance to reflect on who we were, what we were grateful for and things we wanted to change.
The virtue of lockdown for me has been that I have been able to spend valuable time with my family.
If we could remove the tragedy perhaps we should have a few weeks’ lockdown every year?
Every morning as I look out from the balcony of our house at the nearby sea, I count my blessings.
They say your life is a reflection of what you hold inside of you, and these days I’m glad to say it is light not darkness.
Exercise, positivity, being in a happy environment and completing goals are my remedy to depression and they have made me a sunnier, more enthusiastic person in all my roles: dad, husband, son and brother.
If you can cycle to work, do yourself a favour and get on your wheels, spin the pedals and get your heart racing. If your commute is runnable, get your pins out.
For many, work dictates that you can’t exercise as much as I do and with the same flexibility. But what’s to stop you getting up an hour earlier and making time for your body?
It’s not just your body that benefits – it’s your mind, your outlook on life, and your effect on those around you.
Look around your work in the morning. Who looks like a zombie off a film set, with grey skin and bags under their eyes? Who is bright-eyed and awake, cheeks full of colour, bouncing around like they’re on a pogo stick?
I’ll bet that The Walking Dead cast haven’t already exercised before sitting down.
And they’re not going to be set up well for the challenges of the working day either. It’s scientifically proven that physical movement keeps our minds sharper.
Exercise not only pumps more blood and oxygen to our muscles, but to the brain as well.
When we are stressed, stationary or lying down, the brain is starved of this healthy flow, and the crafty cortisol gets in instead.
Studies show that older people who exercise for an hour three times a week had better cognitive abilities compared with people who did less exercise or none at all.
These superior mental skills include quicker processing of information, better attention, and improved time-management skills.
Exercise really does make us sharper mentally and brings out the best in us. If you’re out of shape you feel lazy, unmotivated and disconnected from your physical self.
Depression’s best friend is apathy – you can’t be bothered to do anything that might lift your spirits even though you know you should.
Until I began training for the first Deontay Wilder fight I had 20 to 30 cans of Diet Coke per day.
I loved it but now I know better! My mental health is directly linked to exercise – and Kristian’s helped me with both.
So here are three takeaways from Old Baldy Head for a healthy life:
- Have a routine. People with good routines are generally happier and more consistent in what they do.
- Hydrate. Drinking water sounds simple but many people don’t do it and end up hungry, so they eat more.
- Take one day at a time and each day as it comes.
Extracted from The Furious Method: Transform Your Body, Mind and Goals by Tyson Fury (Century £20) published Thursday. © Tyson Fury 2020.
TYSON FURY’S PERSONAL WORKOUT
Good morning, dosser, let’s go! This is just a gentle workout to ease you in. Warning: it gets harder…
1 Minute 30 Second Warm-up
- Jog on the spot doing straight punches with both arms for 20 secs.
- Bounce on the spot for 20 secs.
- Swivel hips clockwise for 10 secs, then the opposite way for 10 secs.
- Slow squats for 20 secs.
- Kick legs out and shake for 10 secs (one at a time).
10-Minute Session (rest for 30 seconds after each exercise)
- Walking lunges x 10.
- Jump squats x 10 (same as slow squats but jump up off the ground as you stand up).
- Press-ups/push-ups x 10.
- Full sit-ups x 10.
- Bicycle crunches x 10 (lie on your back, hands behind head. Lift left knee towards chest and bring right elbow towards left knee, while extending right leg. Repeat for opposite leg/elbow).
- Star jumps x 10.
- Half sit-ups/stomach crunches x 10.
- Fast squats x 10.
- Static leg lunges x 10 (plant left leg and lunge backwards with right leg, then alternate legs).
- Burpees x 10 (bend down, put hands on floor, kick back into a press-up, jump feet back towards hands. Stand up and then jump).
- Toe touches x 10 (standing – reach down as far as you can).
- Still standing, cross legs and slowly touch toes x 2, coming up gently, vertebra by vertebra.
- Roll hips x 5 each direction.
Make sure you hydrate too.
- If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116 123.