FRANK WARREN’S SCRAPBOOK – 17.12.15
So, the Fury furore rages on. Tyson’s toxic tongue has been the subject of angry debate by a posse of politicians, pundits and petitioners – even the the PM was asked to get involved but sensibly declined.
Now we await Sunday night in Belfast and the reaction from the public to the new world heavyweight champion’s noxious views and religious ranting when the vote for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is revealed. Although initially established as third favourite behind Andy Murray and Jessica Ennis-Hill shortly after he had spooked and dethroned Wladimir Klitschko, Fury’s odds have lengthened, albeit marginally.
For the bookies are shrewd enough to recognise that he may well get more votes than people think because the fan-in-the-street can be pretty perverse these days, especially the younger element among the populace.
You need look no further than the rebellious youthful support for the new oddball Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Sometimes they seem to like what they perceive as a bit of laddishness, although the oldies among us may consider it differently.
One thing I would like to put right is a piece in the Daily Telegraph which suggested that I went on BBC News last week to defend Fury. Not so. I made it clear there was no excuse for the some of the things he has said, but that the public are not stupid and would make up their own minds.
Moreover I pointed out that several SPOTY winners are flawed as so-called role models, whatever that phrase might mean.
Remember that Muhammad Ali was voted Sports Personality of the Century by BBC viewers, but if you hark back to some of the more outrageous things he said in his younger years as champion about blacks staying with blacks and whites with whites, and that the white man is a devil, that would be deemed racist and utterly abhorrent today.
Yet he went on to become the best loved sports figure of all time.
We all say stupid things from time to time and, as I say, there is no excuse for Fury’s more rabid outpourings and misrepresentation of certain passages in the Bible he says he lives by.
But the BBC are right not to bow to anti-Fury hysteria by the self-righteous PC brigade and remove him from the shortlist of candidates. Let the public be the judge.
Fury isn’t the first boxer, or indeed sportsman, to be on that list who has said or done stupid things. Among those who’ve actually won it you’ve had Linford Christie, a drugs cheat, Ryan Giggs and his extra-marital affairs, Gazza, an alcoholic, Joe Calzaghe, who later admitted snorting cocaine, Freddie Flintoff, who famously peed over the Downing Street lawn when p***** himself. Even cycling hero Tommy Simpson, the first Brit to win the Tour de France, subsequently collapsed and died after taking drugs.
Paragons of virtue? but at the time they were all perceived as so called ’role models’.
Now we’ve had Kellie née Frank Maloney coming out, as it were, to condemn Tyson, yet a few years ago he was saying some very similar things when he made that ridiculous bid to become Mayor of London.
Some of his utterances were at least as bad as those attributed to Fury. But all has been forgiven because of who he is now and what he has become – not least a Guardian reader!
But I just think that the public’s intelligence is being underestimated and who knows we might well get a bit of a surprise on Sunday night.
The word is that both the BBC (as well as Sky) are nervous about of having the gypsy giant live on screen, fearful of what he might come out with next.
Fury’s mistake is to keep feeding the frenzy. It might be time to keep the wayward tongue that he says is often in his cheek, firmly bitten between his teeth.
Especially when the mic is thrust in front of him in Belfast on Sunday night – if he turns up! No doubt they will nervously keep the bleep button handy.
I had to laugh when Fury was even the subject of a debate on Question Time last week and Quentin Letts, the Daily Mail columnist, suggested the reason he should be kept on the shortlist was to see the punch-up between him and right-on co-host Clare Balding.
I agree, though wasn’t it the same high-horsed Ms Balding who once described boxing as being ‘dirty and corrupt’ A bit thick that when you consider the sporting world she comes from!
I can’t think of any British boxer who has faced criminal charges for throwing a fight but how many jockeys and trainers have been fined, suspended and even jailed for fixing races, eh Clare?
Believe me, there are more pulled horses in horse tracing than there have ever been pulled punches in boxing.
Tomorrow: More from Frank Warren’s Scrapbook on boxing’s Xmas Cracker.