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Tony Bellew – your questions answered
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Tony Bellew

Tony Bellew has been starring in Channel 4 show SAS Who Dares Wins. In it he has revealed how retirement has been a challenge and how he wants to learn to control his anger.

We asked you to send questions for the former world cruiserweight champion, and he has responded to a selection.

SAS, happiness and personal battles

Tony Bellew and Ant Middleton in SAS Who Dares Wins
Bellew’s time on SAS Who Dares Wins is overseen by Ant Middleton (right)

Sam: Did you think retirement would affect you so much?

“No, Sam. I thought I was prepared but the hardest thing is being 36, having done all you wanted, that’s it – you’re retired.

“You still have so much ahead of you but don’t know what to do.”

Dean: On SAS you talk about a built-up anger inside you. What advice would you give on dealing with this?

“I don’t think I am good enough to be a poster boy on this. I struggle every day as my outlet was boxing. Now I do things like getting on a bike and riding dozens of miles.

“I like to challenge myself and the thing I get the most from is punishing myself, physically or mentally.

“I like feeling like I’m not standing still and I think if you’re trying to get to new levels, the only way most of the time is to go through a barrier which is physical or mental.”

Matt: You mention trying to find “true happiness”. Have you found the meaning of it?

“I don’t know what it is, Matt. It’s tough and I will always be searching maybe.

“Some people think social media shows it but I think social media is a load of rubbish where people show you the highlight reel of their life.

“True happiness is a thing few find. I’ve been there when things have been going great but the next day it changes. I can just try to live each day the best I can.”

Mike: Do you feel the transition from boxing is something fighters are underprepared for, and how can this be improved?

“They are definitely not prepared enough. I always had an exit strategy. I had in my mind I wanted 10 properties so I knew when I was getting close to the exit point.

“Even though I had a strategy, I still wasn’t prepared for the mental side and that’s what you have to be ready for.

“Mental health help is needed when boxers retire as they get left alone to rot. Saying that, it would also be hard to help them mentally during their career as they are in a lonely but very focused place.”

Boxing, regrets and tough guys

Tony Bellew in a boxing match in SAS Who Dares Wins
Bellew has spoken about controlling his anger throughout his time in SAS Who Dares Wins

Simon: What would you do differently if you had your time again?

“I would have moved up from light-heavyweight to cruiserweight a lot earlier and spent a couple of years at heavyweight.

“I loved being a heavyweight and in the David Haye rematch feel I put on one of my best displays. I felt bulletproof that night.”

Rajveer: What is the most difficult thing about being a boxer?

“Being away from home all the time is tough but the main one is the mental pressure around the huge nights.

“I fought numerous times when my career was on the line, probably first against Ovill McKenzie as far back as 2011.

“There are fights where if you lose, no-one cares from there on. So dealing with stress and anxiety at those significant moments in your career is very, very tough.”

Danny: Who was the hardest man you faced?

“The toughest in terms of durability was Paul Bonson in 2008. I broke my hand on his head.

“I hit him with absolutely everything and he just took it.”

Charly: Who from your list of opponents punched the hardest?

“David Haye by a country mile.

“The times in my career where I’ve been stopped, I was normally exhausted. Against Oleksandr Usyk, my grandmother would have stopped me I was so tired.

“Haye gave me a headache for four days.”

Desmond: Would you consider becoming a trainer?

“I’ve been asked to train people three or four times and said no, purely because while I know I would enjoy it, I don’t want more time away from the family.

“My life has become more about them now and being a proper dad. I really feel I could offer a lot as a trainer and I have ideas on techniques and ways to get around things but I am not missing more time [at home].”

Steve: If you had a choice to fight any boxer from history who would it be?

“I’d have taken a good hiding from Evander Holyfield. That would have been brilliant.

“I love how he fought. I’d have been able to hit him as he came to fight but he’d have beaten me up with me loving it for as long as I could stick with him.”

Treats, football and an Everton dilemma

Jim: Who is your favourite Everton player of all time and why?

“I’d say Duncan Ferguson as I just loved the tenacity and played football the same way – putting myself about up front with a short fuse.

“He’s become a good friend now and was at my wedding.”

John: Would you rather hold all four heavyweight titles or score the winning goal in the FA Cup final for Everton?

“Wow, that’s some question!

“I’ll have to say scoring the winner for Everton. That would have meant more than anything in boxing.

“If the venue for me winning all four heavyweight belts was Goodison Park I’d take that, but if not I’ll score the winner.”

AC: Would you consider going to do I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here or Strictly Come Dancing?

“Strictly is a no. The jungle, never say never.

“I did SAS Who Dares Wins as I admired the instructors as serious dudes. I am old-school so it was a draw because the careers the military men on the show have had was an inspiration.”

Danny: Are you enjoying not having to be on such a strict diet since leaving boxing? If so, what’s been your go-to takeaway meal?

“I love an an Indian or Chinese and I’m bad for toffee when it is out of the fridge – the more it stresses my jaw the better.

“When I was maintaining a strict weight at light-heavyweight, my go-to treat was Mr Freeze ice pops. I have found a shop that sells them recently.

“I had a 10-year addiction, lost them from my life and now they are back.”

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