Tyson Fury, a two-time world heavyweight champion, has described himself as having "Irish blood" and a "British heart."
Fury, though born and raised in Manchester in the UK, has strong Irish roots. His father John Fury, also a boxer, is from Co Galway, while his mother Amber Fury, whose mother was from Co Tipperary, was born in Belfast.
Fury represents the United Kingdom in his professional fights, but the self-proclaimed "Gypsy King" would have represented Ireland if he had his way.
Fury has always been vocal about his Irish roots and famously vacated his British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles in order to fight for the more modest Irish title earlier in his career.
Explaining the bold decision, Fury told Irish Boxing in 2013: "I think I have showed my true colors over the years. I vacated the British and Commonwealth titles, which some people say are more prestigious than the Irish title, but not to me. I vacated those belts for an Irish title shot because it meant more to me.”
He added: “All my people are from Ireland. I was born in Manchester but I am Irish. I have lived in Ireland, visited all my life, and when I fight, I represent Ireland. It means alot to me as does the support I get when I fight in Belfast.”
Fury, who comes from Irish traveling stock, is related to The Fureys, a famous traditional music group, as well as Andy Lee, an Irish boxer.
Fury even tried to represent Ireland at the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 but failed to prove his Irish ancestry because his father's birth was never registered with the state. As a result, Fury has had difficulties obtaining Irish citizenship.
In a segment on BBC Newsline in 2011, Fury, sporting an Antrim GAA jersey, spoke further about his bid to represent Ireland at the Olympics and his Irish heritage.
"I should have gone to the Olympic games in 2008 and won a gold medal for Ireland, but I was denied the chance to go and do it," Fury said.
"If you've got any sort of Irish in you, I don't care where you're from in the world, New Zealand or Afghanistan it doesn't matter, you're brought up as a little child and your father says listen, this is what you are, this is where you come from, forget everything else."
Fury spoke again about the difficulties he had in becoming an Irish citizen after he first became world heavyweight champion in 2015 when he defeated Wladimir Klitschko in Germany.
"I can’t get an Irish passport. Becoming the heavyweight champion of the world is not as hard a fight as proving my Irishness," a frustrated Fury said.
But, as Fury said, "a piece of paper doesn't really mean anything to me because I always knew what was the truth."
Officially or not, Fury is Irish and people can take great pride in his stunning successes.
*Originally published in February 2020. Last updated in May 2023.