"They're all criminals!"
"They're vermin and leave mess everywhere they go!"
"It is a lifestyle choice, not an ethnic minority."
"They should all be sterilised."
"How can you be racist to Gypsies and Travellers, they're not even human."
This is what us Gypsies, Roma and Traveller (GRT) people usually have to put up with when it comes to 95 percent of articles or TV shows about us.
But thanks to Tyson Fury, people are talking more about GRT people in a positive way, allowing space for a discussion to get to know us and respect our history within the world. While it may be short-lived, it has been refreshing.
Refreshing that a Gypsy man, proudly talking about his ethnicity and who is unabashed, has been received positively in the media and by the world.
We knew back when he started that he was going to go far, and he had a big following of us. Every Traveller and Gypsy man I know was going his fights or religiously watching and cheering him on, no matter who he was against.
From his rivalry with John McDermott and his domestic classics against Dereck Chisora to where he is now after one of the greatest heavyweight trilogies of all time against Deontay Wilder, it is safe to say that not only has Tyson Fury established himself as a boxing 'great', but for GRT people, he is a hero to us.
Like Muhammad Ali was adored back in 1974 in Zaire, or Canelo is now to his Mexican fans, Fury will forever be a hero to us, as his fights have given us a little bit of freedom from the daily discrimination and inequality that we have faced for centuries.
His comeback, not just in Fury v Wilder 1, but in his personal life, is well documented and will forever be lauded as one of the most inspirational. He is very open about how depressed he became and how dark his world was, which led him to contemplate suicide daily.
Many GRT people don't live past this stage of depression – GRT people experience suicide at 6.6 times that of non-Travellers. He became an ambassador for mental health, changing the narrative from 'pretending to be OK' to 'it’s OK not to be OK', a message sent out to the world.
So, for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, to see him in the conversation for one of the 'best ever', and easily the best of his era, makes us all immensely proud.
To us he already is. For thousands of GRT men, women and children, boxing is our way of life, and right now, in 2021, we have a Gypsy man as the king of the sport. Even typing that gives me goosebumps.
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