Tyson Fury deserves a place in 'Who's our greatest all-time sportsman?' debate

So who is the greatest ever sportsman Great Britain has produced? Sir Ian Botham? Sir Steven Redgrave? Bobby Moore?

I was lucky enough to be at Wembley Stadium on Saturday night to witness another legitimate candidate in this debate, World Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury, produce a boxing masterclass when he knocked out challenger Dillian Whyte at the end of the sixth round.

He remains only one of two heavyweight champions to remain unbeaten in their professional careers, Rocky Marciano was the other, but as I alluded to in last week’s column, his back story is not only something lifted from a Hollywood film script but an inspiration to a large number of people.

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Tyson Fury celebrates his latest triumph / Picture: Getty

His success in the ring, culminating in capturing all the title belts from the legendary Wladimir Klitschko in Germany in 2015, counted for nothing a year or so later as he personal life unravelled and he had perhaps his hardest fight in his life against anxiety and serious mental health issues.

It was a fight, despite once being virtually on the brink of suicide, which he won, at his lowest ebb he found himself weighing nearly 30 stone, yet got back to his consistent fighting weight of between 18-19 stone within 18 months.

I’m taking nothing away from the three sportsmen I named at the top of the page or any other candidate for the ‘Greatest’ mantle, but if you analyse Fury’s achievements both in and out of the ring, he has to be there or thereabouts in this esteemed group of sportsmen.

He retired in the ring after Saturday’s contest, and I hope he stays retired, he has nothing left to prove, he has no money worries, but he has so much left to give, helping in the field of mental health and putting people back on the right road.

The night before, I attended a dinner at the Amex to mark the 25th anniversary of the final game at the Goldstone Ground.

A plethora of Albion favourites joined nearly 400 fans for a great night, the special guest being Steve Gritt, the last Albion manager at the old ground and architect of the ‘Great Escape’ of 96/97.

Perhaps is now the time for the Albion to look into forming an ex-players’ association? We must never forget where we came from, nor the people who got us here.