Connect with us


I held my baby for first time, then midwife plucked her from me – her fight inspired me to win mine, says Tyson Fury

TYSON Fury has revealed for the first time how the near-death of his baby daughter sparked his greatest win in the ring.

Athena was born prematurely last year — just weeks before the Gypsy King’s epic 11th-round KO of Deontay Wilder.

Tyson Fury says his daughter Athena’s fight for health inspired his boxing success
Wilder punches Fury during the WBC Heavyweight Championship in 2018
The Gypsy King and wife Paris never gave up on daughter Athena

Here, in exclusive extracts from his new book Gloves Off, Tyson reveals the incredible tale…

I am The Gypsy King — a bona fide legend and a once-in-a-lifetime superhero.

But boxing isn’t my entire world. The reality is I’m a husband, a dad, a son, a brother, an uncle.

My family are my armour and Paris and my six beautiful kids are always in my thoughts because they’re so precious to me.

On the eve of my 2021 fight with Deontay Wilder I slept on a hospital floor as our youngest child, Athena, fought for her life shortly after being born.

I had a split draw with Wilder in 2018 and beat him in 2020.

I hoped that my rematch against him in 2021 would be a Hollywood-style ending to my dark days of depression.

But then Athena was born prematurely at the beginning of August 2021 in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, just two months before the fight.

At first everything went well with the birth. I held my new daughter for the first time, and everything was perfect.

There had been no signs of anything being wrong during the pregnancy.

Then the midwife plucked her out of my arms and within minutes everything was kicking off.

Apparently her heart was beating too quickly, and at first I didn’t think anything of it.

Then everybody around us seemed to be panicking.

Athena was hooked up to a machine, doctors were pushing buttons and taking readings and her heart rate had rocketed to 300 beats per minute, when it should have been closer to 120bpm, and there was nothing the nurses could do to fix the problem.

They injected her with something that seemed to slow everything down, to around 140bpm, but then she spiked all the way up again.

The consequences were terrifying.

If Athena’s heart rate couldn’t be steadied she would probably die from a cardiac arrest.

Watching the medical staff rushing around her and Paris was horrible, though I knew they were both in safe hands.

After being born, I’d died and been resuscitated three times – the NHS had kept me going well enough.

Still, that did little to ease the sense of total helplessness I was experiencing.

I saw nurses sedating Athena; someone was putting a tube down her throat to assist her breathing; and while everybody seemed to be acting calmly amid the chaos, there is nothing a parent can do in a situation like that, other than to watch and pray.

I’d been reduced to nothing.

My baby’s life was hanging in the balance and my name and what I did for a living wasn’t going to change a thing.


In the end, it was decided that Athena should be blue- lighted to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, and once there, her heart rate was stabilised.

It was so hard to see her on an incubator, with several tubes and wires coming out of her body.

She looked so tiny and vulnerable, and even though her situation had improved, the doctors were warning us we weren’t yet out of the woods.

Athena’s heart rate was still all over the place, and at any given moment she might die.

As Paris recovered and Athena started her battle, I bedded down in the Ronald McDonald House, an accommodation for parents attached to the hospital.

Nothing could dissuade me: I was crashing there until Athena had stabilised. But every day my head span.

Though it was the last thing on my mind, at some point, I was going to have to think about the upcoming fight with Deontay Wilder.

If it was to go ahead, my preparation would have to happen at breakneck speed.

Athena was in ICU weeks before the showdown with Deontay Wilder
Little Athena was fighting for her life while Tyson was trying to prepare for his title bout
The boxer’s new autobiography Gloves Off, is out on November 10

Once my schedule was pieced together, I estimated I had around four weeks to get into fighting form. It wasn’t long, but I could still make it.

At the Alder Hey Hospital the doctors were giving Athena ­life-saving treatment.

The good news was that she’d been taken off the incubator and there were some signs of improvement, so whenever Paris and Athena were resting, I went to work.

To tackle Wilder, I needed to make the most of every opportunity, and a day or so after the birth, I started a jog around the hospital with Dad.

I wasn’t in the best of shape at the time because I’d been struggling to eat well, what with being in and out of Alder Hey.

I’d also not long recovered from Covid and my lungs felt like two sheets of sandpaper whenever I put in a shift.

Puffing a little, I’d probably only done around three miles when my phone started ringing. It was Paris. She was hysterical.

‘The baby’s died,’ she screamed. ‘The baby’s dead. She’s dead. She’s dead . . .’

I sprinted to the ward as fast as I could, fearing the worst.

My chest burned, my legs were in agony, and as I ran I tried my best to console Paris.

‘It’s going to be alright,’ I panted down the phone. ‘Let the doctors do their job. Don’t worry . . .’

When I made it to her bedside, there seemed to be a hundred medics crowding around Athena.

Apparently, she’d become completely unresponsive while Paris was holding her, then her heartbeat had faded away to nothing.

Athena was resuscitated, but Paris was now losing it.

A nurse was trying to calm her as the specialist staff went to work. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

Eventually, to our enormous relief, and with the grace of God the doctors were able to steady Athena.

We were told she would have to remain in hospital until she’d made a full recovery.

In the end it would take three weeks before she was allowed home and for much of the time I slept at the Ronald McDonald House, or on the floor of the hospital ward, feeling exhausted, praying for her to pull through safely, knowing that some parents never got to take their babies home.

It hurt me to see her in the cot, attached to a bleeping machine.

A lot of the time Paris and me would sit there, staring at our baby.

Keeping the worrying news from the kids was a tough job too.

All of them were excited to meet their new sister – Venezuela, Prince John James, Prince Tyson Fury II, Valencia Amber and Prince Adonis Amaziah. We didn’t want to tell them that Athena had nearly died because we didn’t want to worry them.

After what felt like an age, Athena had recovered enough for us to leave hospital at the end of ­August.

I immediately went back to work, even though I probably could have postponed the fight.

It’s not as if I didn’t have a good reason for requesting a delay.

Sleeping rough on the floor of a hospital wasn’t the best way to prepare for anything, let alone a world heavyweight title bout against a man who was talking up my murder.

But what was the point in looking for excuses? It was now or never. I’d had a tough time for sure, but not as tough a time as Athena – and she’d shown the strength and willpower to fight her way back to life.

I would turn her battle into fuel.

And I did. I beat Wilder with an eleventh round knockout – in one of the most epic fights of all time.

It was Athena’s successful battle which inspired me to win mine.”

  • Adapted from GLOVES OFF by Tyson Fury, published by Century on 10th November in hardback and audiobook.
  • Tyson Fury v Derek Chisora for WBC & lineal Heavyweight Championship of the World will be broadcast exclusively on BT Sport Box Office. Tickets for the event at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Dec 3 are available now at
Tyson Fury and his family
Fury recording his debut single – the Neil Diamond classic Sweet Caroline
The couple with their six children

Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Must See


More in Boxing