World heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury struck trouble on two fronts Tuesday, with a police investigation launched into his comments about homosexuality, and reports that he had been stripped of one of his belts for not facing the mandatory challenger.
Greater Manchester Police said they have received a report of a “hate crime” regarding Fury’s comments, which were published in a newspaper interview before his victory over Wladimir Klitschko in a heavyweight title fight on Nov. 28.
Fury, who is Catholic, said that among the things that need to happen “before the devil comes home … is homosexuality being legal in countries.”
The Greater Manchester Police said they “take every allegation of hate crime extremely seriously and we will be attending the victim’s address to take a statement in due course.”
The BBC reported late Tuesday that the International Boxing Federation has stripped Fury of his title less than two weeks after winning it, quoting Lindsey Tucker, championships chairman at the IBF, as saying: “It’s true he’s been stripped of his IBF belt.”
“Our challenger was Vyacheslav Glazkov, but instead Fury’s gone and signed a rematch clause with Wladimir Klitschko,” Tucker was quoted as saying.
Fury’s profile has soared since his shock win over Klitschko to capture the WBA, IBF and WBO belts. Controversial remarks that previously went under the radar are now being seized on and questioned because of the added profile from being heavyweight champion of the world.
Before the Klitschko fight, Fury also criticized abortion, and said doping should be legalized in all sports to make it “fully fair.” He was fined 3,000 pounds (around $4,500) in 2012 for a rant that included branding two fellow English boxers “gay lovers.” In the past week, he has been quoted as saying Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill “slaps up good,” before adding that “a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back.”
Fury’s remarks prompted more than 100,000 people to have signed a petition calling for him to be removed from the shortlist for the BBC’s sports personality of the year award.
“Young people need sports personalities that they can look up to,” the petition says, “not people who express outrageous homophobic views, which can cause bullying and self-harm.”
The BBC is refusing to deselect Fury from the 12-person shortlist.
Asked by The Associated Press two days after beating Klitschko if he needs to keep his views to himself now he is heavyweight champion, the 27-year-old Fury said: “There’ll be no change in the champ.” Fury has also said he was “not bothered” about being a role model to kids.
Fury is of Irish-Gypsy heritage — he calls himself “Gypsy King” on Twitter — and comes from a bloodline of bare-knuckle champions. He said he was the most charismatic boxer since Muhammad Ali, making headlines for dressing up as Batman in the run-up to the Klitschko fight. He sang Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” to his pregnant wife in the ring after the unanimous points win in Duesseldorf.
“Let’s not try and make me out to be some evil person and I hate gays, because I don’t hate anybody,” Fury told the BBC on Monday. “I can actually say I don’t hate anybody.”