Baby Reindeer: An interview with John Fury’s forehead

HALFWAY through writing a piece in which Andy Lee discussed Tyson Fury’s renewed focus, I became distracted by news that John Fury, Tyson’s dad, had used his head – or not, as the case may be – on a member of Oleksandr Usyk’s entourage, just because, well, it was Monday.

I then thought about two things: one, whether Fury’s so-called renewed focus would be impacted by his father’s antics; and two, whether the piece I had been writing was even worth finishing given this latest, headline-grabbing development.

The answer to question one I will never know, yet the answer to question two was easy to find. All one had to do was take a look at the reaction to John Fury headbutting a Ukrainian in Saudi Arabia to quickly understand why nothing else needed to be written or indeed spoken about regarding the fight between Fury and Usyk that day. John Fury, you see, had done it. He had made the day, if not the week, all about him.

Once aware of this, fans with cameras in Riyadh surrounded him as though on that John Fury forehead, from which blood trickled rather pathetically, all of life’s answers could be found. “Mate, mate, mate, what happened?” they all asked, one after another, in line like a gaggle of geese. Meanwhile, Tyson Fury, leaving an interview of his own, arguably summed up the situation best when he caught a glimpse of his father and said: “What’s happened to your head, you silly c**t?”

Tyson Fury (Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

However it was coaxed, the answer, like the question, was always the same. Something about no man born from his mother getting one over a Fury (or a variation on that theme). Yet what the media had failed to get, in all their desperation to cut to the chase and be first, was one key piece of information; that is, the nickname John Fury once gave the forehead, or weapon, used on a member of Oleksandr Usyk’s team yesterday.

The name, for those who don’t know, is this: Baby Reindeer.

That’s a true story, by the way, though it should be made clear the name of John Fury’s forehead has nothing to do with the Netflix series currently taking the world by storm and causing countless clout-chasers to harass and occasionally interview the maladjusted civilians on which certain characters on the show were apparently based. Instead, John Fury elected to call his forehead Baby Reindeer for no reason other than it represented the state in which he left any man born from his mother – dossers, sausages – once the thing connected on theirs. In fact, come to think of it, there is every possibility it was this he was trying to explain to the young member of Usyk’s entourage when he invaded his space and the world watched as the impact of Baby Reindeer silenced Ukraine. Or maybe John Fury, in the end, just wants his story to be heard and wants the world to know the man whose testicles produced Tyson Fury has an equally potent forehead.

If that’s the case, he needs better questions and he needs some variation, too. Ask him the same questions, you see, and you will get only the same Sean Dyche growl and the same trite answers; just as putting a man like John Fury in the same situations will yield only the same results. Then again, where John Fury is concerned, perhaps that’s the whole point. Perhaps it is these answers and these results that boxing, struggling beneath the weight of its own unseriousness, seeks nowadays as something of a last resort or a Hail Mary swing.

Regardless, there are currently people in Saudi Arabia whose plan when making the trip was to interview Tyson Fury ahead of his big fight only to then spend their Monday reporting on what his dad chose to do with his head. Some, ever so dutifully, followed the drama with cameras and phones, often these days the easiest way to document tragedy, whereas others, actual journalists, sat down and dedicated words to an incident they knew had no bearing on the fight for which they had travelled yet somehow meant everything in the world in which they presently toil. Even then, mind you, nobody asked the right questions; or for that matter learned the name and history of John Fury’s now-famous forehead.

Chances are had John Fury on Monday sat down with a professional like Piers Morgan, things would have been different. Unlike those present in Riyadh, Morgan would have no doubt got to the truth and discovered once and for all the motive of the father behind the world heavyweight champion. He would have given John Fury a platform on which to speak and suggested it was in his best interest to speak – to him, right now, no time to waste. He would have promised an online audience of millions, something John Fury has wanted for years, and he would have done everything in his power to make him famous; proper famous, not just boxing famous. All the while John Fury, slowly peeling off the plaster running vertically down his forehead, will have worked up the courage to say to Morgan, “Thank you, Piers. Now let me tell you the truth about Baby Reindeer.”

John Fury gets wild (Misfits Boxing)

Until now, John Fury had only ever attempted to shout his way to relevance in the boxing world. Yet this, he found out, was not a ploy exclusively his and therefore he needed to come up with new and better ways to grab attention and make a situation all about him. That, by all accounts, is where Baby Reindeer came in; a tool, before Monday, largely forgotten and underutilised, yet a long-time friend John Fury, soon to turn 60, has always been able to call upon in times of trouble.

Cynics, of course, will suggest he has simply now dragged up something from his past to gain attention and distract everybody from the much greater and more important fight at hand. However, John Fury, not for the first time, will claim he is misunderstood, targeted, victimised. He will call himself a “fighting man” and you a “political bastard”.

His Baby Reindeer, meanwhile, annoyed initially to have been made the centre of attention, will later claim self-defence and say a mere forehead cannot be responsible for the decisions made by those who thrust them forward, either into the spotlight or other people’s faces. They will, having healed, then consider their options: legal, management, sponsorship. They will start a podcast. They will fight a Paul. They will become the second most powerful forehead after Zinedine Zidane’s and the second most powerful part of John Fury’s anatomy after his balls. Give it a year, or two, and Baby Reindeer will even agree to appear in a three-part Fury vs. Usyk documentary for Netflix as a talking forehead, at which point the entire world will finally know their name.

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