Tyson Fury has told the remarkable story of his encounter with a severely depressed man at a hotel in Belfast on Wednesday.
Fury is in the city to face Francesco Pianeta on a colossal card at Windsor Park on Saturday night but far from locking himself away in preparation, the lineal world heavyweight champion has spent hours talking with strangers and granting countless photo requests.
An increasingly significant advocate of mental health awareness, Fury has revealed he drew on the experience of his own struggle with depression to help a man who approached him as he sat with his team in his hotel.
Fury said: “I had a fellow in here yesterday who was on the verge of committing suicide. He said he needed to speak to me urgently. He left happy and contented after a little 20-minute conversation.
“This guy was really edgy. He had a black eye and a big bag and I thought he was going to try something. He said he couldn’t talk to me in public and needed to speak to me on his own. I said: ‘No worries. Let’s go round here. I need to speak to you anyway.’
“It makes me feel great. It’s not that I want a pat on the back or anything but I know I can help people with my experiences. If I can come back then anybody can.
“Helping people is worth more than money and achievements. You’re doing good. You’re giving someone information and there’s no charge. I don’t gain anything from giving time to a random stranger but I take passion from it.
“I can talk about it because I’ve been through it. There are people who’ve studied it and never experienced it and they don’t really know the truth behind it. I’ve been there. Low. High. Down and out. And I’ve come back.
“I want to give my knowledge to other people so they don’t go through the bad things I did. Myself and my Dad always thought there was something bigger than boxing for me. Maybe it’s a calling.
“I didn’t come back to boxing for financial gain. I came back because I felt an emptiness and felt I wasn’t fulfilled. It’s not about winning more belts. There’s got to be something else and I think it’s this – helping others who suffer from depression, mental health problems and all that goes with it.
“I will continue to help as many people as I can while I can. It’s a great feeling.”