World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Tyson Fury confided in sparring partner Steve Cunningham when the pair trained together in 2014.
Cunningham, a former two-time cruiserweight champion known as ‘USS’, shared the ring with Fury originally in 2013.
After dropping Fury hard to the canvas before losing, Cunningham was subsequently drafted in for a Team Fury training camp.
Whilst there, Cunningham was told of the prejudice Fury is subjected to every day in the UK.
This fact has become more poignant since Fury faced a backlash for singing the n-word in a rap song by Biggie Smalls on his 32nd birthday.
“I remember when I was in camp with him for the David Haye fight that didn’t happen,” Cunningham recalled.
“He told me about his people, the gypsies. That’s the word he used. ‘Us gypsies we are treated like the black people in America. We are treated like the (n-word) of the UK.
“That’s what he told me, so when he said that to me, it didn’t shock me. It helped me understand it even better.
“You know, I didn’t know anything about travelers or gypsies – any of that stuff. So it let me understand it better.”
On the current row involving Fury’s use of the word, Cunningham said: “Well, I’m just like so, you know what I mean?
“It’s not surprising to me that anybody is reciting the song. Hey man listen, there are some words I use in public and there are some words I don’t use in public.
“There are some words I just wouldn’t use, period. But, there is no word nobody can tell me I can’t use, period. I don’t care what it is. If I want to use it, I’ll use it.
“Being respectful and understanding I wouldn’t use certain words. But, this word, man. It’s in every song, it’s in every rap song. It’s everywhere.
“He’s reciting a song. He’s not using it in a derogatory manner and it is what it is.”
Despite some negativity, many have backed Fury, who has a long-standing history of having friends of many different ethnic backgrounds.