Tyson Fury sends lawyers' letter to BBC demanding Spoty list removal

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Tyson Fury with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain on Monday.
Tyson Fury with Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain on Monday. Photograph: ITV/Shutterstock

Tyson Fury has taken the unusual step of using Good Morning Britain to announce legal action against the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.

The world heavyweight champion, whose actions may or may not be part of the circus surrounding negotiations over a possible unification title fight with Anthony Joshua, told Piers Morgan he had instructed his lawyers to write to the public broadcaster demanding his name be removed from the Spoty shortlist.

Fury said he had already asked “politely” on Instagram to have his name struck from a list that also includes the favourite Lewis Hamilton, alongside Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stuart Broad, Jordan Henderson and Hollie Doyle. In the post, Fury had said he had “no need for verification or any awards”, having declared himself the “people’s champion”.

The BBC chose to decline Fury’s original request and, on Monday afternoon, they reaffirmed their intention to keep the boxer on the list.

The shortlist, a BBC spokesperson said, had been drawn up by an “independent expert panel who choose contenders based on their sporting achievement in a given year”. In February Fury won the WBC heavyweight title by inflicting a punishing defeat on Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas.

It added: “On this basis Tyson Fury will remain on the list for Sports Personality of the Year 2020. As always the winner will be decided by the public voting during the live show and it is of course up to Tyson if he chooses to participate in the show.”

Fury’s initial inclusion on this year’s Spoty list had sparked controversy given he has previously served a two-year doping ban and is under active investigation by the UK Anti-Doping Agency following allegations that a member of Tyson Fury’s team offered a farmer £25,000 to provide a false defence after the heavyweight champion failed a drug test in 2015.

Fury told Good Morning Britain: “I have asked nicely in a video to be taken off the list and they decided that they were not going to take me off the list. So I have had my lawyers send them a letter demanding that I am taken off the list and let’s hope they listen and take me off the list.”

Good Morning Britain (@GMB)

'I don't need any awards from any TV stations for me to know who I am and what I've done.'@Tyson_Fury explains why he asked the BBC to remove him from the shortlist for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Award.

Watch GMB 👉 https://t.co/yyUUJmzswF pic.twitter.com/bdE6q7ekx5

December 14, 2020

Fury has a long and controversial relationship with the BBC’s flagship sporting award. In 2015 a petition demanding the fighter’s removal from that year’s shortlist because of a catalogue of sexist and homophobic remarks attracted 100,000 signatures. In 2018, Fury was missing from the list despite contributing to one of the sporting events of the year in his first encounter with Wilder, which ended in a draw.

The question most boxing fans are asking about Fury, however, has nothing to do with Spoty and everything to do with whether he will make a match with Joshua for the most eagerly anticipated fight in a generation.

Fury told GMB that he was “optimistic” the contest would happen. He said it would be “one of the most explosive, quickest fights we will ever see” but that there would only be one winner. “I am aiming to take him out inside four rounds,” Fury said of Joshua. “He is standing in my way of total supremacy in my era. Immortality awaits. I am one win away from it.”