Tommy Fury and Nathan Gorman have stand-out acts to follow.

One is the brother of the former heavyweight champion of the world, the other is related to a bare-knuckle fighter who spent 20 years unbeaten.

Tyson Fury’s little brother and Bartley Gorman’s great nephew are learning of the “fake friends” that litter boxing while banking everything on the sport delivering their dreams.

The pair – both of Traveller heritage – sat down with BBC Sport after a training session as they prepare for bouts on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s world title shot against Josh Warrington at Manchester Arena on Saturday.

Debutant Fury admits he has “nothing” to fall back on away from the ring, while undefeated Gorman simply warns his stable-mate the professional journey becomes an all consuming “disease”.

School’s out to train with Tyson

Tommy Fury (left) with uncle Peter, brother Tyson, cousin Hughie and dad John

Fury, 19, and 22-year-old Gorman are sitting among punch bags at their base – Ricky Hatton’s gym in Hyde.

The two Travellers grew up in houses in the north-west of England and left education before the start of comprehensive school.

For Gorman, a world of work in the building trade started, while for Fury, life as a sponge, soaking up know-how in the gym began.

On the face of it, it appears the pair followed a natural path into the ring but both insist the choice was theirs alone.

“My uncle Peter Fury would train Tyson and Hughie Fury in Warrington,” Fury recalls.

“From around the age of eight I’d go there every night and train. Tyson was early in his career. You could see how well he had done and wanted it yourself.

“I can remember Tyson teaching me as a kid how to block a body shot. I had my toughest training at that gym. Sometimes in my teens I’d be in with some of Tyson’s sparring partners.

“I took full shots off big men and wanted to come back to the gym the next morning. People would say: ‘There’s nothing that can put this lad off.’

“I was never academic. My family knew I’d never be a doctor or this or that. But they weren’t on my back to fight – I did it as I wanted to do it for me and people saw the dedication was unreal. They stopped mentioning having a back-up plan.

“There’s nothing else down for me; this is going to work. What else can I do apart from box? Nothing.”

Following a ‘king of the Gypsies’

Gorman after sparring with Anthony Joshua in 2015 and with Tyson Fury earlier this year

Gorman, in contrast to his gym partner, admits he spent his early teenage years opting for “pizza and video games” over consistent training.

But he would eventually follow in the fighting footsteps of his great uncle Bartley, a Welsh Traveller and bare-knuckle fighter given the title ‘King of the Gypsies’.

Bartley, who died in 2002 at the age of 57, claimed to have gone unbeaten from 1972 to 1992 and fought, among other unlikely venues, in a quarry and down a mineshaft, as well as at horse fairs, camp sites, bars and clubs.

“Bartley even sparred the legend Muhammad Ali. How crazy is that?” says Nathan. “He was a great fighter and died when I was young, though I remember him shadow boxing me, joking on the living room floor.

“I’d like to think my family therefore have this war horse spirit – hit me and I hit you harder. It’s in me. My grandfather wasn’t a fighter, my dad wasn’t but boxing hit me. It’s a disease. I’d like to think that’s a good thing – seven days a week, somehow boxing is involved.

“But I wasn’t pressured. Even to this day my father would prefer me not be boxing – he’d never have taken me to a gym.”

Fake friends, fake energy, real lessons

Tommy Fury

Gorman, who is married to his childhood sweetheart, turned professional three years ago and has 14 wins from 14 as a heavyweight.

He trains alongside Fury six days a week under Hatton, who liked to alternate hard and easy workout days when he was competing and implements the same system for his fighters.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays see intense workouts. The days between are lighter but both fighters also run six days a week.

The hard graft suits Fury, who claims he was running four miles at 4am by the age of 10.

Complimenting his gym partner’s work ethic, Gorman suggests the young fighter will nevertheless learn to ease down at the right times as one of the lessons pro life brings.

“Tommy will learn the business of boxing early on as a pro and about his body,” says Gorman.

“He will have a lot of fake friends who will try and lead him up the path. I’ve had people offering me nights out and had to give them a wide berth as they want you for the wrong reasons.”

Fury admits he feels a number of people are already trying to “latch on” since it was announced he would follow Tyson – one of his five brothers – into the sport.

But in seeing the well-documented battle with depression his most celebrated brother endured before returning to the ring after almost two years out in 2018, he believes he has learned to “seek contentment” rather than financial wealth.

“Boxing has lows,” says Fury.

“It can even come down to a sparring session. Nathan will tell you, if you spar well you leave the gym feeling on top of the world. Have a bad spar and it gets you for the full day – you’re depressed, thinking about it.

“Seeing Tyson go through what he has, you learn off other people. People go by money and wealth in this day and age and you have to ask, is that really what motivates?

“You see countless stars get down, depressed and you think, how can they be when they have everything? You learn to seek contentment – the rest is fake energy.”

Graft, sacrifice and facing fear

Tommy Fury (right) on the night Tyson beat Wladimir Klitschko in Germany in 2015

Gorman’s opponent for Saturday – 6ft 8in Romanian Razvan Cojanu – fought for a world title in 2017 but is a late replacement for experienced heavyweight Alex Leapai, who pulled out with 10 days to go.

Such a setback is a classic hurdle for a developing fighter to overcome. Fury meanwhile faces the challenge of shining against a Latvian opponent with more than 100 professional losses to his name.

For now, headlining sold-out bills remains the stuff of dreams for both men. But, crucially, there is time and ambition.

“When someone wins a world title, people see the flash cars, the world belts – they don’t realise it’s taken that guy 15 or 20 years of dedication,” says Gorman. “It’s missing parties, family events, not eating what he wants, putting the body through hell for that one moment.

“People see the tip of the iceberg. I want to win every world heavyweight title belt there is. If I didn’t think I’d be a world champion I wouldn’t be in this gym. I know I have 10 years of a long, gruelling haul to come.”

One slip-up, one poor training camp or one punch a fighter simply does not see can diminish years of work.

Win, win the right way, say the right things, make a noise and draw in the crowds. It is a challenge for any fighter, even with fighting in the family.

Fury adds: “My next 10 or 15 fights will be, ‘he’s Tyson’s brother.’ I want to stress though I am not here to live off someone else’s back or shout his name. I am unbelievably proud of him – but this is my career.

“I’m not here for anything other than world titles or I wouldn’t slog my guts out. Sometimes people think you are in dreamland. Legends, were they at one point in dreamland?

“People are too scared to fail. They give up on dreams thinking they will be embarrassed. I am not afraid to get stuck in and get what I want, a world title, and I believe I will get that at the end of this journey.”

A new Fury journey begins. The Gorman name fights on.


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