Who makes the eccentric list?
Boxing is all about the characters and personalities, with its history littered with athletes who stood out, not just for their skill in the ring, but also for quirky traits, wisdom and life journeys they had been on.
The same of course can be said for many other sports, but only in boxing do you get a constant stream of rags to riches tales, being such a working man’s sport, any one of which could easily be turned into a film or book.
Here are some of the most eccentric boxers in the world today, as well as life stories and experiences that made them that way.
It would be hard to start anywhere else than with the flamboyant Ring Magazine and WBC heavyweight champion of the world, who despite waiting all year for a third fight with Deontay Wilder has been keeping his fans thoroughly entertained over social media.
No other mainstream fighter in the world sings Aerosmith tracks or American Pie after a victory, but that is just Fury’s way. He’s simply disarming the public and boxing insiders with what often appears to be split personalities.
Fury was always seen as being destined for greatness, being born into a rich bloodline of gypsy warriors. However, with his father spending much of Tyson’s formative years behind bars, a young boxer was tasked with not only developing into a world-class fighter but doing so while battling his own well documented inner demons.
It is no surprise at all that his most recent book, Behind the Mask, won the 2020 Sports Book of the Year Award.
It could easily be argued that some of the most inspiring and eccentric sportspeople operating at the top of their field in the modern era are women, with Megan Rapinoe, Caster Semenya, and Serena Williams all coming to mind.
Claressa Shields does her bit for the ladies in boxing, and despite being short on quality opponents at middleweight and super middleweight, has built a reputation as a fearsome fighter who already ranks as one of the best of all time.
Just like in Fury’s case, Shields grew up with her father in prison and credits her grandmother for encouraging her to follow her dreams in the boxing ring. She is also a constant advocate for the people of Flint, Michigan, as they continue their fight for clean water supply.
Oddballs tend to pop up in all sports, but usually, after a brief flash in the pan, they fade away, with fans only holding lingering memories of their existence.
However, the same cannot be said of Ukrainian amateur legend turned undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, who next faces another interesting character in Britain’s own Dereck Chisora.
Usyk is well known in the sport for crazy training camp stories and is often caught in the act of a social media video or two. The thing that makes the Ukrainian stand out from the crowd is that he does not allow his eccentricities to budge his focus from the task at hand. That’s a sober approach that other eccentric sports stars like Mario Balotelli or hall-of-famer Dennis Rodman would have been well advised to follow before their respective careers and lives went off the rails.
You have to be a little bit crazy to get in a boxing ring every week of your working life, so it’s no surprise the sport attracts some interesting individuals.
While all of the fighters above harness fictional alter egos to varying degrees in order to impress in front of the cameras, some fighters who go one step too far, allowing their doppelganger to take over altogether and to start calling the shots.
Two examples of this on British shores are Ohara Davies and Prince Patel, with the latter drawing ire from the British boxing fraternity due to his outrageous comments and boasts, which unfortunately are not always backed up in the ring.
So here they are, some of the quirkiest personalities of today’s boxing world. Who’s your favourite?